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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebels: Women Killed 17 in Suicide Bombing

A Chechen rebel spokesman said Wednesday two women had driven a truck loaded with explosives into a military building in a suicide attack.

Movladi Udugov said the women, including a cousin of Arbi Barayev, a well-known rebel commander, had killed 17 federal troops in the attack on the military commandant's headquarters in the village of Alkhan-Yurt, southwest of the capital.

"The women deliberately went to their death in the name of Allah and the freedom of the Chechen people," Udugov said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Interfax quoted Valentin Astafiyev, spokesman at the military base near Grozny, as saying preliminary reports showed four troops were hurt by a car bomb and ensuing gun battle in Alkhan-Yurt.

If confirmed, it would be the first attack of its kind reported in the republic, where federal forces have fought separatists for eight months but have failed to pacify them.

Udugov also said rebels had ambushed an armored column in the Nozhay-Yurt district in the remote southeastern mountains, which has seen heavy fighting and air strikes for a week.

He said up to 30 federal troops were killed in a two-hour battle there, near a village called Ayti-Mokhk. Federal sources did not report such a clash.

Military reports cited by Interfax said 20 rebel fighters had died in overnight clashes. Planes and helicopters flew more than 40 sorties.

Both sides have tended to exaggerate enemy dead.

Udugov also denied reports that Aslan Maskhadov, the pro-independence elected Chechen president, had been injured.

"He is alive and well," he said.