Chechen rebels laid weapons at the feet of their Russian foes Saturday, but it was too late for Akhmed Mukayev, 11, killed in a Russian mortar attack earlier in the day.
The mortar rounds slammed into the street near Akhmed's house late Saturday morning, his father said. The boy had been playing with 12-year-old Adam Dauka-yev, who suffered serious head injuries.Adam's small chest heaved with the help of an artificial respirator at the Achkhoy Martan clinic.
"They're barbarians," his 43-year-old father, Shirvani, said of the Russians.
The Russian commander, Maj. Gen. Viktor Feodotov, had just radioed for a helicopter to take the two boys to Grozny when a black sedan pulled up with Akhmed's remains in the back, wrapped in a white sheet. His aunt wept over his papery, still face.
"This is why we have to withdraw," Feodotov told a Chechen elder wearing long, Arab-style robes. Both stood on a leafy road where the rebels had agreed to bring their weapons.
With sharpshooters nearby, a Russian officer sat at a small table with a typewriter and fingered a large pile of cash.
He read aloud to the Chechen fighters a price for each weapon handed in - $227 for a grenade launcher, $205 for a Kalashnikov assault rifle, $34 for a hunting rifle.
There was a little haggling. Then the Chechens unloaded five Ka-lash-nikovs, an old shotgun, 30 anti-tank mines and a few other pieces of ordnance, and set them down on the roadside.
Against all odds, the military peace accord signed last month, in which Russian troops gradually will withdraw from Chechnya while rebels hand in their weapons, appears to be working.
A long column of 160 Russian armored vehicles and trucks from the 503rd Motorized Infantry regiment raised dust as it wound along country roads into neighboring Ingushetia, en route to the military base in Vladikavkaz.
Tanned and grimy, the soldiers were relieved to be going home. They were among the first units sent to Chechnya last December to crush an independence rebellion. Thousands have died since.
The deputy commander of the regiment, who gave his name only as Col. Viktor, was angered at an attack on one of his reconnaissance teams the previous night.
"They're not keeping to their side of the agreement, so we think we'll be back soon," he said.