7 terrorists killed in Chechnya

Seven militants, who killed policemen and civilians in the Gudermes district yesterday, were killed in a federal forces air strike, Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the regional operational headquarters for controlling the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

According to him, reconnaissance officers who landed in the area of the air strike reported about the deaths of the militants.

"The reconnaissance officers found the bodies of seven bandits. There was no direct armed fight with the militants," he added.

Col. Shabalkin also said that an operation to eliminate the rest of the gang was being conducted in the Nozhai-Yurt district of the republic.

According to the operational data, the gang consists of two groups, Rapani Khalilov, who is directly subordinate to Shamil Basayev, commands one of the groups. Ahmed Avtorkhanov, a subordinate of Aslan Maskhadov, commands the second group. (Both Mr. Maskhadov and Mr. Basayev are the leaders of Chechen terrorists.)

The militants were dressed in federal servicemen uniforms, and when they left the place of attack, they burned three UAZ cars they used in the attack.

Yesterday, in Ishkhoi-Yurt, a village in the Gudermes district, about 30 militants, armed with automatic weapons, shot Lieutenant Abdulmezhidov, an officer from the local interior department.

They also attacked Zhiguli and Volga cars and killed Lieutenant Ilyasov, the acting head of the interior department, a local resident, and several policemen: Mr. Ozdiyev, Mr. Khakimov, Mr. Yasimbiyev and Mr. Tarashev.

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