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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Rebels Recapture Village and Seize Key Road

GROZNY — Rebels have recaptured a village in southeast Chechnya from federal forces and held control Monday of a key road running through the mountainous area, witnesses reported.

Insurgents seized the southern village of Benoi-Yurt in recent fighting, and placed checkpoints on a road that leads further south to the town of Vedeno, residents who fled the area said. The road, which runs along a steep gorge, serves as the main supply and transportation route for federal forces in Vedeno and surrounding areas.

Military helicopter gunships fired Monday at Benoi-Yurt, about 40 kilometers southeast of Grozny, as federal forces sought to drive out the rebels. Throughout the nearly two-year conflict, federal troops have been reluctant to enter into street battles, instead launching heavy artillery and air bombardments.

A Chechen field commander, Abu-Valid, said by telephone Monday that clashes were raging in several villages in Chechnya's south. Abu-Valid claimed insurgents had destroyed two armored personnel carriers in the Vedeno district.

Click here to read our special report on the Conflict in Chechnya.

An Associated Press reporter also saw a military jeep blow up Monday near the northwestern village of Goragorsk — an area that was taken by troops early in the war and that has seen less violence than the southern districts. A serviceman was wounded.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said Monday that their criminal case against a rebel commander, Salman Raduyev, who was captured by federal forces, will be sent to court in two weeks, Itar-Tass reported. Raduyev, who led a raid on a Russian town in 1996 taking hundreds of hostages, is charged with terrorism, abduction, murder and other crimes, prosecutors said.