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Explosion on train kills one, injures 6 in Chechnya

SHARE Explosion on train kills one, injures 6 in Chechnya

NAZRAN, Russia — A woman was killed, and six servicemen were wounded Saturday when an explosion ripped through a Russian military train in the restive republic of Chechnya, a news report said.

NTV commercial television said that the train's locomotive was hauling two carloads of soldiers toward Russian headquarters in Khankala, a suburb of the capital Grozny. The blast occurred near the town of Dzhalka, killing a cook and injuring six of the men.

The train was disabled, and the soldiers walked the remaining 10 miles to Khankala, the report said.

Officials in the office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the chief government spokesman on Chechnya, did not confirm the attack, the Interfax news agency reported.

Remote-controlled bombs along roads have been a favorite rebel tactic, and soldiers have been combing rail lines to ward off bomb attacks.

The attack comes after a relative lull in rebel action.

Three Russian servicemen were injured late Friday when wayward fire from Russian artillery struck their helicopter pad at Khankala, Interior Ministry officials said. According to Interfax, the commander of an artillery unit issued incorrect target data.

A tank was hit, but a helicopter on the pad was undamaged, NTV reported. It took off after the rounds fell.

The report showed swearing, shirtless Russian soldiers frantically dousing the smoking tank with a fire hose to prevent its munitions from exploding.

The misdirected rounds came from a unit that was shelling Chechen rebels in the forest near Khankala, said Col. Sergei Matveyev, chief of artillery and missile forces in the region, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

It quoted Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, deputy head of the General Staff, as saying that one defective shell went astray and hit the tank.

Security at border crossings and checkpoints inside Chechnya was stepped up early Saturday, but restrictions on people trying to leave Chechnya have not been introduced, the military command's press center said.

Many Chechens were trying to leave the republic following rumors of impending rebel attacks. There were long lines at the border as Russian troops searched people more thoroughly, officials said.

Interfax quoted Taus Dzhabrailov, spokesman for the Russian civilian administration in Chechnya, as saying that the rumors "are spread to keep the people afraid and force them to flee their homes."

Russian troops were driven out of Chechnya in a 1994-96 war. They returned in September, after Islamic militants raided several villages in neighboring Dagestan and after about 300 people died in apartment bombings the government blames on Chechens.

Federal troops have taken control of most of Chechnya. But guerrillas have eluded Russian forces by using the forests and mountains to conceal their movements and encampments.