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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Military Claims Chechen Casualties

NAZRAN, Russia - Russian troops clashed with rebels in southern and eastern Chechnya, and the Kremlin claimed on Wednesday to have inflicted significant losses on the militants.

Konstantin Makeyev, an aide to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said that 19 rebels from a band of about 40 had been killed on Tuesday after they attacked an army convoy near the southern village of Mesker-Yurt. Makeyev said that Russian units had surrounded the militants, and that the fighting lasted about an hour.

There were no federal losses, Makeyev said. But an official in the pro-Russian Chechen government, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that three Russian soldiers had been wounded in the skirmish. He had no information about the alleged rebel losses.

There were also several clashes in eastern Chechnya, near the border with the Russian region of Dagestan, the Chechen government official said, but no information on casualties was available.

Rebels kept up their attacks on Russian checkpoints, striking 22 times over the past 24 hours. Three servicemen were killed and 12 were wounded in those attacks, the Chechen government official said.

A Chechen was killed while trying to plant a land mine in the Chechen capital Grozny, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. Rebels have seeded roads and buildings in Chechnya with mines, steadily causing injuries and deaths among both servicemen and civilians.

In Tbilisi, the capital of neighboring Georgia, media outlets on Wednesday received an appeal to Georgians from Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov. In the message, the Chechen leader threatened punishment for Chechens who carried out "provocations"on Georgian territory, and called on Georgians not to let themselves be dragged into the Chechen war.

Russian government officials have repeatedly accused Georgia of allowing rebels to use its territory for transport of guns and drugs. Last week, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze introduced emergency measures in the Kakhetia region, a district that borders on Chechnya and is home to thousands of ethnic Chechens.

Chechen rebels won de facto independence from Russia in a 1994-96 war. Russian forces rolled back into the republic in September 1999 after rebels raided Dagestan and after a series of bombings in Moscow and other cities that were blamed on the rebels.