Russian warplanes set a gas refinery ablaze Monday in a bombing raid on the outskirts of the Chechen capital. Chechen authorities rushed reinforcements to the village, where heavy fighting between rebels and Russian troops was reported.

Chechen firefighters at the scene in Dolinsk, 15 miles northwest of the capital, Grozny, said they saw corpses on the road next to charred cars. They said the bodies of four civilians had been dumped in a canal along the road.In Grozny, two people were wounded when an electric power plant several miles from the city center was bombed. A water reservoir nearby also was damaged.

On the main square in the capital, Chechens were praying to Allah. Hand-lettered posters called on the Russians to withdraw and refrain from spilling blood in the breakaway republic 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow.

Russian troops, sent into the Caucasus Mountain republic on Dec. 11, were encountering heavy resistance as they approached Grozny, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

The troops had been dug in outside Grozny while Moscow gave Chechen President Dzhokhar Du-day-ev until midnight Saturday to disarm his forces. He refused, demanding that the troops pull out, and efforts to restart peace talks failed Sunday.

In Moscow, President Boris Yeltsin faced increasing opposition to his decision to send soldiers into the southern republic. Worried parents bombarded the government with telegrams asking for information about their sons.

Yeltsin's former prime minister urged the Russian people to take to the streets in protest. Armored personnel carriers assumed positions on a road on the outskirts of Moscow to protect the Russian capital against possible terrorist attacks.

Russia's parliament met to discuss the crisis, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired an unusual joint session of Yeltsin's hawkish Security Council, the Cabinet of Ministers and Yeltsin's administration. The session was devoted to developments in Chechnya, ITAR-Tass said.

Yeltsin has staked considerable political capital on resolving the conflict quickly and with minimum casualties. The offensive in the mostly Muslim republic of about 1.2 million people is generally unpopular with the public and among Russian troops.

Some Russian soldiers have vowed not to advance, even if ordered. One commander was recalled Saturday after promising villagers his tanks would not storm Grozny.

Moscow sent 10,000 to 40,000 troops into Chechnya to re-establish its authority in the republic, which declared independence in 1991.

The population of the small mountainous region suffered heavily under Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Thousands of Chechens were forcibly relocated in 1944.

Russian officials have painted Chechnya as a nation of criminals, drug runners and arms dealers, but Chechens say the charges mask Russia's aim to reassert rule over them.

The Russian government, promising to use force "humanely," urged women, children and non-combatants to leave Grozny. About 67,000 to 100,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Ingushetia.