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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Ambush Kills 5 Soldiers

APA girl begging near an armed officer Thursday in the Chechen capital, Grozny.
A land mine exploded when federal troops came to the aid of a Chechen official whose home came under attack by rebels Sunday, killing a senior military officer and four other soldiers, officials said.

Colonel Alexander Kayak, the top officer in Chechnya's southern Urus-Martan region, and four other servicemen died when rebels detonated the radio-controlled land mine, said Roman Shchekotin, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry's branch in southern Russia.

The blast wounded two other soldiers, Shchekotin said. It occurred in the village of Roshni-Chu, 23 kilometers southwest of Grozny.

Kayak had led a group of servicemen who rushed to Roshni-Chu after rebels had attacked a house belonging to the Moscow-backed civilian administrator.

Rebels apparently had expected soldiers to come to the administrator's rescue and prepared an ambush, Shchekotin said.

The administrator's house burned to the ground, but he was not hurt, Interfax reported.

In a separate development, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said on Saturday that seven local policemen had been detained on suspicion of various crimes, including aiding rebels and kidnapping, Interfax reported.

The seven were detained over the past 24 hours, Alkhanov said. None of the suspects was identified by name.

Three officers who served in Grozny were suspected of helping armed separatist groups, Alkhanov said, without giving details.

Four others, who worked in the western district of Achkoi-Martan, were suspected of involvement in the abduction of a police officer and a civilian from a market on Friday in the northern town of Znamenskoye.

In an operation to find the kidnappers, Federal Security Service agents and Chechen police detained the four officers and three other civilians who were traveling together in cars in the nearby Goragorsky settlement, the Chechen branch of the FSB said, Itar-Tass reported.

There was no immediate word about the fate of those who had been kidnapped.

Alkhanov conceded that many members of the local police force, which has recruited former guerrillas, were untrustworthy because "a careful selection was impossible."