AP: Rebels still hold one village in southern Russia
- Rebels still hold one village in southern Russia
MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Sept. 3 Bad weather Friday hindered efforts by
Russian troops to dislodge Islamic militants still clinging to a key
village after several days of bitter fighting in the republic of
The Russian military acknowledged that the rebels still held the village
of Chabanmakhi. Federal troops were also coming under fire in nearby
Karamakhi, another militant stronghold, said Yevgeny Ryabtsev, the
Interior Ministry spokesman in Dagestan.
Karamakhi was heavily mined, complicating the advance of Russian forces.
A Dagestani police officer was seriously wounded in a mine explosion
there Friday, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Rebel fighters were also putting up fierce resistance from
well-fortified entrenchments in the surrounding mountains, according to
The militants are Muslim rebels who took over a district about 25 miles
south of Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, late last year and have been
running it according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Russian forces began an offensive Sunday to drive them out.
Russian troops have been using heavy artillery and helicopter attacks
against the rebel positions, which are well-hidden in the heavily
forested mountains. But rainy weather Friday grounded Russian warplanes,
said Russian Air Force Commander Col. Gen. Anatoly Kornukov, according
to the Interfax news agency.
Federal troops were planning to resume air attacks if the weather clears
Saturday and intended to use more powerful bombs against the rebels,
On Friday, the militants fired at a refugee convoy in an apparent
attempt to block civilians from leaving, Russian Defense Ministry
officials said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. There was no
word on whether anybody was injured.
The militants are trying to keep civilians from leaving because federal
forces would be more likely to use heavy artillery and airstrikes if the
towns were evacuated, the military said.
Twenty-six Russian servicemen have died and more than 150 have been
injured since the fighting began Sunday, according to the Interior
Ministry. Rebel losses were estimated by Russian forces at more than 100
fighters, but that number couldn't be independently confirmed.