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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Children Get Candy

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- More than 100 tons of New Year candy have been handed out to thousands of children living in refugee camps in Chechnya, an official said Sunday.

About 3,500 children living in tent camps within the region were given some 110 tons of candy donated by Moscow factories, Chechnya's deputy prime minister, Amnat Batyzheva, said, according to Itar-Tass.

Batyzheva said all Chechen children would receive additional gifts from the region's Moscow-appointed government.

Meanwhile, fighting in Chechnya showed no signs of letting up in the run-up to the holidays. Russian artillery pounded the Nozha-Urt, Vedeno and Itum-Kale districts on Saturday, an official in the pro-Moscow government said. Russian aviation has been grounded recently because of foul weather.

Rebels attacked Russian outposts 13 times in the past 24 hours, killing one serviceman and wounding six, the official said on condition of anonymity. Three police officers were killed when their patrol was attacked in Grozny. Rebels also fired at an armored personnel carrier and at an army jeep, killing two, the official said.

An explosion injured two civilians Saturday morning in the center of Grozny. The blast occurred in a cafe near the military commandant's office, officials said. The cafe is a popular gathering spot for Russian servicemen, but was almost empty at the time of the explosion, according to media reports.

Chechnya's prosecutor, Vsevolod Chernov, told NTV television the blast was likely an attack aimed against the cafe's owner.

Grozny civilians were also targeted Friday, when masked gunmen boarded a bus carrying government workers and demanded they hand over their money and personal documents, an official in the Chechen government said. The assailants fled the scene, the official said.

On Saturday, news agencies reported that rebel Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov's counterintelligence chief had been arrested in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. The man, Khamzat Khasarov, would likely be extradited to Russia to go on trial, the reports said.