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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

13 Russian Soldiers Killed in Chechnya

NAZRAN, Russia - Rebels unleashed a score of hit-and-run attacks against Russian checkpoints and convoys over the past day, killing 13 soldiers, a Chechen government official said Friday.

Eight soldiers were killed when rebels fired on Border Guards troops patrolling the border with Georgia and on Russian positions in the southern villages of Stariye Atagi and Chiri-Yurt, said the official in the pro-Russian government in Chechnya.

Three more servicemen died when militants fired at their military car in the outskirts of Argun, east of the capital Grozny, and two were killed in a convoy attack near Serzhen-Yurt, in the mountainous Vedeno region of the south, he said on condition of anonymity. In all, Chechens fired 22 times on Russian positions since Thursday.

As Russia's war in Chechnya has ground into its second year, the daily Russian casualties have underlined the federal forces' tenuous control even over territory they have occupied for months. While small in number, divided and outgunned, the rebels have proved they can keep the army on the defensive.

They have also planted mines throughout the republic, slowing Russian military traffic to a crawl and exacting a steady stream of military and civilian casualties.

Two members of the pro-Russian police force in Grozny were killed Thursday when a mine exploded in a damaged building and the structure collapsed on top of them, the Chechen government official said.

The Russians have concentrated on sweeping Chechen villages and towns for suspected rebels and arms caches, and bombarding suspected rebel positions with aircraft and artillery. As winter weather has set in, however, planes have increasingly been grounded due to poor visibility.

Rebels pushed Russian forces out of Chechnya in a 1994-96 war, which ended with the republic's de facto independence. Federal forces re-entered in September 1999, after rebels raided the neighboring Russian region of Dagestan and after about 300 people died in apartment bombings in three Russian cities.

In Moscow on Friday, pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov warned that if the government did not provide funding for Chechnya, including money for housing reconstruction, in a timely way, ?in the next five to six months developments in Chechnya may become uncontrollable,? Interfax reported.