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960417

Chechen rebels kill

26 Russian soldiers

in ambush

MOSCOW: Chechen rebels ambushed a Russian military convoy, killing 26 servicemen and wounding 51, Interfax news agency said on Wednesday quoting a Russian military spokesman in the separatist region.

The spokesman told Interfax the rebels attacked the convoy of 27 tanks, armoured vehicles and cars with grenade launchers and mortars in the region of Shatoi, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the capital Grozny.

The spokesman did not say when the attack took place.

In a separate incident, two Russian servicemen were killed and 11 wounded during clashes in the region of Vedeno, in Chechnya's southeastern mountains.

The reports of heavy casualties could badly undermine President Boris Yeltsin's attempts to launch peace talks in Chechnya ahead of the June 16 presidential election.-Reuter

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