Russian warplanes resumed bombing Chechnya Wednesday after leaders of the rebel republic refused President Boris Yeltsin's offer of peace talks. An orphanage in the Chechen capital was destroyed in one raid.

"The children were playing when they started the bombing at dawn," said Nadezhda Medved, the director of Children's Home No. 1 in Grozny. The blast cratered the courtyard in front of the orphanage, causing a six-story building to cave in.The orphanage's children and staff have been living in its basement since Russian airstrikes began and were not injured in Wednesday's raid.

Scores of civilians have died in airstrikes against Grozny since the Russians invaded Chechnya on Dec. 11.

In a televised speech Tuesday, Yeltsin said he had ordered a halt to airstrikes "that cause civilian casualties" in Grozny. He also proposed new peace talks.

But the raids resumed after Chechen officials dismissed his speech for failing to meet their main demand: withdrawal of troops.

"It's clear the Russian president doesn't want to change his plans and withdraw troops," Ruslan Chimayev, Chechnya's deputy foreign minister, was quoted by Russian media as saying.

Chechnya, a republic in the Caucasus Mountains, declared independence from Russia in 1991.

Russian aircraft also hit the outskirts of Grozny with missiles early today, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. Another air attack on the village of Urus-Martan south of Groz-ny caused casualties, it said. No details were immediately available.

Even as the president spoke Tuesday, the Chechens claimed new Russian aerial attacks on three villages south of Grozny.

Yeltsin made it clear Russian forces would spare no effort to end "the outrage of gangsterism" in Chechnya, a mostly Muslim republic of 1.2 million people.

Chechen fighters number only several thousand against as many as 40,000 Russian troops who entered the breakaway region Dec. 11.