A dusin soldiers die in rebel ambush

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Another seven Russian soldiers died in separate attacks and land mine explosions.

A vehicle carrying five Russian Interior Ministry troops hit a land mine planted by the rebels near the village of Alkhan-Yurt in southern Chechnya while on a patrol mission yesterday. Rebels then fired on the vehicle, killing four servicemen, said an official.

The soldier who survived called reinforcements, and a Russian armoured personnel carrier arrived at the scene and pursued the rebels only to detonate another mine. Rebels then fired rockets at it from a forest, killing eight more Russian servicemen. One soldier went missing and nine were wounded, the Chechen official said.

Despite its overwhelming superiority in manpower and weaponry, the Russian military has failed to uproot rebels from Chechnya’s southern mountains or from the capital during the second war in Chechnya starting September 1999 following raids on a neighbouring province launched by Chechnya-based rebels and apartment building explosions Moscow blamed on the insurgents.