Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK
Chechnya prepares for war
Three years ago the Russian army retreated from Grozny
Chechnya stands on a war footing after Russian air raids on the capital, Grozny, on Thursday, the first such attack since the war ended in the breakaway republic three years ago.
Russian officials said the raids were intended to prevent Chechen-based guerrillas to spread subversion through the North Caucasus, especially in neighbouring Dagestan.
Said-Selim Abdulmuslimov said Chechen military units would soon be receiving sealed orders containing details of missions to be carried out if Russia launched further attacks.
The Russian RIA news agency reported "suffocating black smoke" over the city and a "roaring wall of fire up to 100 metres high" in the Staropromyslovskiy district.
Witnesses in Grozny said buildings shook as bombs struck an airport ed an airport.
Police in Chechnya said five people were killed in the bombing.
Mobilisation of troops
Over the weekend, Moscow said it had deployed some 30,000 Russian troops in an operation to seal the border of Chechnya.
The moves coincide with reports of mobilisation of hundreds of Chechen militants on the border.
Increasing numbers of refugees are also reported to be seeking to cross into Ingushetia, fearful of renewed military activity.
'No repeat of civil war'
But Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says there are no plans for a large-scale military operation in Chechnya. He insisted on Thursday that Russia would not be dragged into a conflict similar to the 1994-96 secessionist war that left some 80,000 people dead.
The Russians have been fighting Chechen-led guerrillas in Dagestan who are trying to establish an independent Islamic state.
In the past two months, the Chechens have reported repeated incursions on or near the border with the republic of Dagestan.
Russian security forces have been maintaining a high profile on the streets of Moscow following recent bomb attacks on residential buildings.
Moscow blames the rebels for the blasts, an accusation denied by the Chechen authorities.