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Success of Chechen rebelsí hit-and-run strategy

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July 3, 2000


GUDERMES, Russia (AP) - Three Russian policemen were killed when their car drove over a homemade land mine at the entrance to a shooting range in Chechnya, officials said Sunday.


According to the Russian Interior Ministry for Chechnya, the three officers late Saturday night drove their car to a shooting range in the town of Shelkovskaya, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of the capital Grozny.


Responding to a report of an explosion at the shooting range, police found the three dead officers, apparently killed by fragmentation from a homemade land mine made out of an artillery shell, the ministry told the ITAR-Tass news agency.


Chechen rebels continued their campaign of nighttime hit-and-run attacks on Russian positions.


Unidentified gunmen fired for two and a half hours on a military commandant's office In the village of Znamenskoye in the Nadterechny region - a lowland area the Russians captured last year, police officials told ITAR-Tass. 


Temporary police stations in the city of Argun and the village of Nadterechnaya were also fired on Saturday night, the officials said. 


There were no Russian casualties reported. The Russian military claims it has crushed organized rebel resistance, but rebel sniping and ambushes have continued across the region. All of Saturday night's attacks took place in regions that Russian claims to control.


In Gudermes, a bomb exploded Sunday in the attic of a bath house where local residents and military were relaxing. The blast knocked out windows of adjoining houses, but there were no injuries.


Russian troops Sunday were carrying out "special operations" in the towns of Valerik and Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny, ITAR-Tass reported. It said the towns were sealed off, and that 15 people were arrested for taking part in rebel operations. 


Gen. Gennady Troshev, commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, said on Saturday that about 1,500 rebels were continuing to resist federal troops in the breakaway republic. 


Russian troops were driven out of Chechnya in a 1994-96 war. They returned after Chechnya-based  Islamic militants raided several villages in the neighboring Russian region of Dagestan, and after about 300 people died in apartment bombings the government blames on Chechens.


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