Russia's top military commander in Chechnya was critically wounded Friday in a remote-controlled bomb explosion that killed his aide and driver.
Russian government and military officials condemned the attack and said it might disrupt complex peace negotiations with Chechen rebels. A spokesman for guerrilla leader Dzhokhar Dudayev denied rebel involvement in the blast.Lt.Gen. Anatoly Romanov, 47, was brought by helicopter to a military hospital in Vladikavkaz, just west of Chechnya.
He underwent an operation and was in grave condition with a head wound, heavy blood loss and a liver contusion, said Col. Rudolf Kan, the head of the hospital. A team of military medics from Moscow rushed to Vladikavkaz.
Romanov's deputy, Col. Alexander Zaslavsky, the driver, and a pro-Moscow Chechen police officer in another car were killed in the blast, which also reportedly wounded 15 Russian troops and 12 civilians.
The midday explosion of what was described as twin radio-operated bombs occurred in the Chechen capital of Grozny as Romanov's motorcade was going through a large underpass. The site has been repeatedly mined by Chechen rebels.
The government announced a state of emergency in Grozny, and Russian troops swarmed the city, ringing the attack site while bomb experts examined the wreckage. Interfax news agency said two other bombs were found and detonated and two suspects detained.
It was the second attempt to assassinate a senior Russian official in Chechnya over the past three weeks. On Sept. 20, a powerful bomb explosion narrowly missed Oleg Lobov, Yeltsin's envoy in Chechnya, and wounded two other people.