10 Russian soldiers killed


Five Russian troops were killed and another eight were wounded in rebel shellings of Russian military outposts across Chechnya over the past 24 hours, an official in the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration said on condition of anonymity.

Another two servicemen were shot dead and four others wounded in a clash with rebels near the village of Ersenoi in the southern Vedeno region.

Three servicemen were killed and five wounded in two other clashes yesterday in the Shatoi region, the official said.

Russian aviation and artillery today also pounded several southern regions in a routine effort to hit suspected rebel hideouts, and at least 220 people were detained in sweeps for suspected rebels and accomplices.

Russian forces pulled out from Chechnya in 1996 after being fought to a standstill by rebels in a 20-month war, leaving the region de-facto independent and largely lawless.