Separatist Leaders Hattab, Basayev And Maskhadov Are Still In Chechnya

According to the information of the Russian military top brass, Chechnya's main militant leaders -- Jordan-born professional terrorist Hattab, and Chechens Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov -- are still in Chechnya, Colonel General Gennady Troshev, the Commander of the North Caucasian Military District, told journalists on Sunday. According to him, the number of "die-hard militants" reach about 700-1,000 people. "They mostly operate in the Chechen mountains and foothills," he said. "One of the main tasks facing federal forces in Chechnya is to track down and seize militant leaders," stressed the general. "Once a militant leader is trapped, his gang disperses and ceases to exist." "The federal forces stationed in Chechnya are not planning any decisive strikes on militants this winter, because there are no militants as such left there," added General Troshev. "What is left is disunited bandit groups and separate bandits, who are not hiding in the woods but laying low and recuperating from wounds in cellars at their relatives', which makes it very hard to locate them." Speaking about federal forces' tactics in Chechnya, the general said the troops were "avoiding mopping-up activities and focusing on special target operations." "The bulk of operations conducted in Chechnya at the moment is handled by secret services and law enforcers. As for the armed forces, they have fulfilled their task by annihilating large bandit units."

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