Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Russians Loose Rockets, Shells on Chechen City Expelled, They Regroup for New Foray

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Russians Loose Rockets, Shells on Chechen City Expelled, They Regroup for New Foray

Article excerpt

Russian troops, driven from the heart of the Chechen capital by rebel defenders, rained rockets and artillery shells on the city Tuesday. Huge fires from the battle lighted up the night sky.

The Russian attackers, humiliated by the setback, seemed to be gearing up for a fresh assault: Twenty trucks loaded with weapons and ammunition headed into Grozny, and Sukhoi fighter jets and helicopter gunships buzzed overhead.

Fighting over Chechnya's attempt to secede from the Russian federation has killed or wounded hundreds of people since Dec. 11.

At least eight large fires from oil depots and the Lenin refinery still burned from a holiday weekend of street-to-street fighting between Russian soldiers and the Chechens.

Russian tank and infantry forces pulled back late Monday to regroup, stirring short-lived Chechen celebrations in the city center. But the Russians began shelling again during the night. Heavy bombardment continued Tuesday in northern sections of the city.

In Moscow, President Boris Yeltsin's closest aide, Viktor Ilyushin, said Russia would "go all the way, to the end" to defeat the rebels. A member of the Chechen parliament, Gleb Bunin, said the city was bracing for another tank attack.

Hundreds of rebel fighters packed the basement and first floor of the concrete presidential palace in downtown Grozny, along with five wounded Russian soldiers. A lone Chechen doctor cared for the wounded, Chechen and Russian alike, in the basement.

"We are ready to fight anywhere, not only in the mountains, but even in Moscow. This is a jihad (holy war)," said Vice President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev.

Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev, in a broadcast on local television Monday from a secret location, said Moscow should negotiate the "withdrawal of all Russian troops" from the city. …

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