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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Russians killed in Chechen attack
At least six Russian soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded in an attack by suspected militants in Chechnya.

Their convoy was ambushed near the town of Avtury, 30km (18 miles) south-east of the Chechen capital, Grozny.

A pro-rebel website claimed more than 20 soldiers died in the attack, which they said was to avenge the killing of their separatist leader in mid-June.

Chechnya has been torn by two wars over the last 12 years, pitting Russian forces against separatist rebels.

The Russian defence ministry confirmed six servicemen had been killed and 20 wounded in the attack, the Interfax news agency reported.

But a local police official who reportedly went to the scene told the AFP news agency that seven servicemen had died and 12 were wounded.

"Combat went on for about an hour. Assault rifles and grenade-launchers were used," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

'No combat actions'

Meanwhile, the pro-rebel website, daymohk.org, citing its own sources, said the attack had killed more than 20 "Russian occupiers" and wounded many others.

Four armoured military vehicles were also destroyed or badly damaged in the attack, the website added.

Daymohk said the assault was in revenge for the killing of rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev by Russian forces last month.

The attack came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Russian military was not on the offensive in Chechnya.

"There are outbursts of terrorist actions, but no combat actions in Chechnya," Mr Putin said.

He also said local security and law enforcement bodies had taken the leading role in the southern Russian republic.


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