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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Agents Intercept Car Bomb in Grozny

Federal Security Service agents discovered a car wired with explosives near the headquarters of the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration less than two weeks after the building was reopened following a truck bombing, an official said Monday.

The discovery of the car bomb in Grozny on Sunday underlined the violence and disorder that afflict the city despite a large military presence.

Elsewhere in Chechnya, six federal soldiers and six rebels died in a shootout in the mountain hamlet of Dyshne-Vedeno that began when rebels attacked a military patrol, said Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the military in Chechnya.

An official in the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration, however, said eight soldiers were killed in the clash. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a total of 18 Russian servicemen were killed and 26 wounded in Chechnya over the previous 24 hours.

Shabalkin told news media that Federal Security Service agents had found an automobile containing a bomb about 70 meters outside the perimeter of the administration complex. The bomb, consisting of about 120 kilograms of plastic explosive, was neutralized, he said.

The Chechen administration complex was heavily damaged in December when suicide attackers drove two truck bombs through the security cordons and detonated them, killing 72 people. Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, hailed the building's July 10 reopening as a sign of determination to bring stability to the region.

Meanwhile, an envoy of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov said he discussed prospects for peace in Chechnya with State Department and Pentagon officials, congressmen and senators during a five-day trip to Washington last week.

Salambek Maigov said he traveled to Washington at the invitation of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, co-chaired by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Maskhadov appointed Maigov this year to kick-start negotiations with Russian officials. However, the Kremlin has rejected the idea of talks with Maskhadov, calling him a terrorist.

"The very fact that I was received within the walls of the Pentagon" proves that U.S. officials do not believe Maskhadov's government is a terrorist group, Maigov said by telephone from London, where he is holding more meetings.

Maigov said he told U.S. officials that Maskhadov supported the anti-terrorist coalition and that recent suicide bombings in Moscow were the work of "a very small, marginal group."

He said he appealed to the United States "to act as a political guarantor" of a peace process.

The Kremlin has called an Oct. 5 election for the Chechen presidency -- with Maskhadov excluded from the ballot -- which it hopes will serve as a political solution and help end the daily attacks on federal forces. Maigov said the vote would solve nothing.