Fighting between Russian troops and Chechen rebels flared anew in the battered capital of Chechnya, in defiance of Moscow's unilateral cease-fire, Russian news agencies reported Monday.
At least five soldiers and policemen were wounded Sunday night when Chechen rebels infiltrated Grozny and attacked a military post, Russian commanders told Interfax.Fighting was reported elsewhere in the breakaway southern republic, and at least one Russian soldier was killed, Interfax said. An unspecified number of Chechens also died.
Grozny has been relatively quiet in recent weeks since it was leveled and overrun by Russian forces after stiff resistance by Chechen separatists. Russian officials recently have emphasized efforts to restore basic water, transportation and communication services.
The rebels may be trying to embarrass the Kremlin, which declared a truce to coincide with this month's World War II Victory Day celebrations.
The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Russian Defense Ministry officials as saying that a "considerable number of militants had broken into the city" and were trying to provoke federal troops.
Chechens were not a party to the Kremlin's cease-fire, which began Friday and runs to May 12. Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev dismissed it as a propaganda ploy and urged Moscow to withdraw its troops from the republic in southern Russia.
President Boris Yeltsin ordered a halt to offensive combat operations for Victory Day celebrations May 9, when dozens of world leaders will be in Moscow, and a May 10-11 summit with President Clinton.
Many leaders had been reluctant to attend the celebrations for fear of appearing to endorse the Kremlin's bloody campaign in Chechnya.
Interfax said fighting persisted near the rebel strongholds of Bamut, Vedeno and Serzhen-Yurt. It quoted the Russian command as saying several dozen rebels were killed by Russian troops responding to attacks.
Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russian forces entered Chechnya on Dec. 11 for what was supposed to have been a quick campaign to end its three years of self-declared independence.