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Orla Guerin reports from Grozny
"There is a new battle ground in Chechnya"
 real 28k

Friday, 11 February, 2000, 09:56 GMT
Russians move to the mountains

soldiers Russian soldiers head for mountains south of Grozny


By Orla Guerin in Grozny

There is a new battle ground in Chechnya. Now the war is raging in the mountains of the south. The Kremlin is pouring in tanks and troops.

Battle for the Caucasus
Moscow is pounding the rebels in their strongholds, an all-out attack on the ground and from the air.

Russia wants this to be the last stop on the road to victory. But thousands of Chechen fighters are holed up here, and they could resist for months.

Chechens move back

The fight for Grozny is over, and people are coming home, home to a living hell.

tanks Soldiers hope this will be the last push
It is no place to start again, among the ruins with little or nothing. But desperate and war weary, many have nowhere else to go.

Moscow did its worst in Chechnya to force out the rebels, and there is simply nothing left.

One old woman asked me: " What are we going to do who will help us? My life is over, this is torture."

A Russian commander is attacked by angry women. " Don't shout at me," he said. "I'm one of you." But the women won't forgive all the destruction of people's lives and belongings.

The Kremlin does not ask for forgiveness - it is the price of victory against terrorists.

But civilians here argue that they have suffered far more than the rebels.

Chechnya has been devastated by five months of war in many areas little has been left standing.

It is hard to imagine how this place can ever be rebuilt, and the fighting isn't over yet - far from it.

No hope

This war is still claiming more victims.

Serena spent three months hiding in a cellar in Grozny watching her mother die of tuberculosis.

Now she too is desperately ill with the same disease.

"We had to negotiate with the Russians to get out," she said. "By then, I couldn't even stand up."

Her doctors have said it is already too late to save the gentle young girl of 16.

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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  Europe
In pictures: Grozny in ruins
09 Feb 00 |  Europe
Missing Russian journalist surfaces in video
09 Feb 00 |  Europe
Russia announces war's 'final stage'
07 Feb 00 |  Europe
New government for Chechnya
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Liberty journalist handed to Chechens
01 Feb 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Conflict not over yet
07 Feb 00 |  Europe
Putin: 'Grozny liberated'
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
Chechen rebels 'set up mountain base'

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