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Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK

World: Europe

'Dual attack' killed president

President Dudayev was killed in 1996

By Russia Affairs Reporter Tom de Waal

Interest in the assassination of a popular Chechen separatist leader has heightened following new revelations on the third anniversary of his murder.

Many questions remained unanswered about the death of Dzhokhar Dudayev, though it is believed he was killed during a rocket attack while making a satellite telephone call in a gully outside a Chechen village.

But mystery has surrounded the event.

It was not clear why there were two explosions - theories included a car bomb planted by Dudayev's own followers or a Russian attack following the tracking of the satellite call.

[ image: Dudayev supporters at a rally in 1994]
Dudayev supporters at a rally in 1994
The death of Dudayev instantly changed the course of the war in Chechnya.

With their president out of the way, the rest of the Chechen leadership soon flew to Moscow to sign a new peace agreement.

Now the man who headed the operation to kill Dudayev has detailed how the Chechen president was killed in an interview with a Russian newspaper.

Vladimir Yakovlev, who says he was deputy head of a group tracking the Chechen leader, has now given a detailed interview to the newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Yakovlev says that Dudayev was killed by a combination of a booby trap and rocket attack.

Russian surveillance

The Russians did have the technology to track a satellite phone call but Dudayev never spoke long enough on the phone for a plane to get airborne and find him to launch an attack.

A Russian unit on the ground, however, did identify the gully as a place which Dudayev visited and planted a booby trap bomb there.

A combination of events leading up to Dudayev's death worked well in favour of the Russians.

When Dudayev made his fateful call from the gully, a plane was already airborne.

Once it was known that Dudayev was in the gully, the booby trap bomb was detonated and moments afterwards a rocket hit its target.

This new account should put to rest some wild speculation about the incident, in particular the persistent rumour that Dudayev is not dead after all - although his body has never been seen in public.

But the claim that someone laid an explosive device on the ground raises new questions about whether someone close to Dudayev was involved in the plot to kill him.

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