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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

13 Russian Servicemen Killed in Chechnya

NAZRAN, Russia - Rebels struck at federal forces across Chechnya, killing at least 13 Russian servicemen and wounding 21 over the past 24 hours in spite of stepped-up military security, a Chechen government official said.

Twelve of the soldiers were killed in rebel shelling of 25 Russian checkpoints, said the official in the pro-Russian administration in Chechnya. Fifteen were wounded in the shelling, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another soldier was killed and two were wounded when rebels attacked a Russian armored personnel carrier on Sunday in the capital Grozny. Four wounded soldiers were wounded in separate incidents, but no details of the circumstances were available.

Over the weekend, federal forces had tightened security in Grozny, beefing up roadblocks and subjecting Chechens to lengthy document checks. Such measures were introduced a week ago, eased for several days, then reintroduced.

The military's on-again, off-again security campaigns reflect the standoff in Chechnya, where rebels are steadily bleeding the Russian forces of men and morale with daily, small-scale strikes. Rebel attacks are followed by military sweeps, involving mass detentions and searches, which are intended both to uncover rebels and discourage others from collaborating with the militants.

Neither side seems to be making any headway in the quest for victory.

The military Monday claimed to have killed eight rebels in a helicopter strike in the southern Shali region, the Chechen government official said. Russian airplanes, helicopters and artillery also bombarded the Itum-Kale, Vedeno and Nozhai-Yurt regions, all in areas where the rebels have been active.

Russian Interior Ministry troops were sent to the Itum-Kale region, near the border with Georgia, to back up border guards posted there, the official said. Rebels have shelled border guards' positions in the area practically every night.

Rebels won de facto independence in a 1994-96 war. Russian forces re-entered the breakaway republic in September 1999, after rebels raided a neighboring Russian region and after a series of bombings that killed some 300 people in three Russian cities.