Chechen fighters kill five Russians

Five Russian soldiers were killed on Wednesday in an attack in the southern Ingushetia republic, adjoining trouble-torn Chechnya.

    Russian soldiers are often targets of Chechen fighters

    The attack occurred near the village of Galashki, 10 km west of the Chechen border, an Ingush official said. 


    A truck filled with Russian soldiers was blown up by a remote-controlled explosive device - one of the Chechen weapons of choice in the campaign for independence.


    Four soldiers died on the spot and another died later in hospital. One soldier remained injured and in serious condition.


    "As a result of the explosion, five servicemen from the Russian defence ministry were killed and another hospitalised," an interior ministry official from Ingushetia said.


    The Ingush republic President Murat Zyazikov quickly cautioned that there was no reason for the estimated 80,000 Russian troops fighting in Chechnya to move into his own republic because of the attack.




    "There is no need to beef up the military presence in Ingushetia because of the  attack near Galashki," he said, arguing that the conflict in Chechnya could not spread to Ingushetia because the situation there was firmly under the authorities' control.


    "It is true that there are forces that want to expand the conflict" to Ingushetia, he said. "They exist in Chechnya and they exist abroad. But there will be no second Chechnya in Ingushetia. The situation is under control," he stressed.


    Meanwhile a spokesman for the separatist Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov appealed to the international community to step in and mediate an end to a Russian campaign that he said had left his republic "a humanitarian disaster zone."


    "There will be no second Chechnya in Ingushetia. The situation is under control."

    -Ingush republic President Murat Zyazikov

    Official statistics vary but up to 5,000 Russian troops and about 15,000 Chechen fighters are believed to have died since President Vladimir Putin launched the second Chechen war in October 1999.


    The fighting at times spills over into the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan where large numbers of Chechens live and enjoy widespread support.


    Ingushetia in particular has close ties to Chechnya since the two formed a single republic in the Soviet era, before splitting up when the present Russian Federation was formed in 1991.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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