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Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Russian HQ hit at night
soldier wielding hose
Russian troops damp down burning combat vehicle
Russian commercial television station NTV has shown graphic night-time footage of an incident at the Khankala base housing the Russian military headquarters outside Grozny.

The TV gave conflicting details of the origin of the firing, quoting one official as saying it was caused by 'friendly fire', rather than by a Chechen rebel attack.

The head of the press centre of the Russian forces in Chechnya, Sergey Artemov, said a grenade launching unit was given the wrong coordinates.

As a result five shells were fired in error at the Internal Troops helicopter landing pad. An investigation into the incident was under way and those responsible would be punished.

Under pressure

Khankala base - friendly fire?
After the shelling, automatic fire was heard at the airfield, the TV said, and the pilots were ordered to scramble. The TV showed a ground-to-air missile just missing one of the helicopters.

A Russian Interior Ministry spokesman later said rebels had tried to attack the base, but were repulsed.

Commander Sergey Matveyev said his forces had fired on rebel unit in the woods. One of the shells went astray, hitting a Russian tank and injuring three soldiers.

Search and destroy

helicopter base
Mortar attack lights up helicopter pad
Whatever the truth behind the incident, it highlights the pressure Russian servicemen are under in Chechnya every day.

The daily reports by the Russian military and the Chechen rebel website give some idea of the intensity of the continuing conflict.

  • 15 July
    "Federal forces conducted several search and destroy operations against rebel bases and weapons dumps in the past 24 hours. As a result, 10 rebel bases, seven camps and six undercover mini-oil refineries were destroyed, weapons and ammunition, including over 38,000 cartridges for small arms and over 3 kg of TNT seized, and 17 people detained." (Interfax news agency)

  • 15 July
    "Field engineers foiled another terrorist act by Chechen rebels when they found and destroyed a 152-mm artillery shell planted by the roadside between the villages of Shaami-Yurt and Katar-Yurt in south-western Chechnya. Four similar devices were found in the area over the past three days." (Itar-Tass news agency)

  • 15 July
    "A special Islamic brigade reports a successful operation in Urus-Martan: a mobile detachment of Chechen mojahedin attacked and destroyed a group of Russian occupiers. A Ural vehicle belonging to the aggressors was knocked out. The mojahedin fired on the occupiers with machine-guns and assault rifles. The Ural caught fire and exploded. At least six occupiers and a truck were destroyed." (Chechen rebel Kavkaz-Tsentr website)

  • 14 July
    "Rebels ambushed a military convoy today on the Caucasus federal highway near the Samashki forest [in western Chechnya]. Commandos manning checkpoint 505 said an infantry combat vehicle was damaged when it was hit by a grenade, wounding the crew and special-purpose troops riding on top." (Itar-Tass news agency)

  • 14 July
    "Gunmen opened fire on servicemen at a post in the Leninsky district of Grozny on Thursday evening. Privates Vitaly Nigmatullin and Alexander Gordeyev were taken to hospital and died during surgery. Private Sergey Styazhkin is still in hospital." (Itar-Tass news agency)

    The First deputy chief of Russia's General Staff, Valery Manilov, said ten Russian troops were killed and 53 wounded in Chechnya in the past week.

    BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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    See also:

    14 Jul 00 | Europe
    Chechen rebel vows to fight on
    04 Jul 00 | Europe
    Russian clamp on Chechnya
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