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Spread of Chechen War Feared as Troops Shell Ingush Village

February 25, 1996|From Associated Press

NAZRAN, Russia — Backed by armored vehicles and artillery, more Russian troops moved into Ingushetia on Saturday and shelled a village they claimed was hiding rebels from neighboring Chechnya, news reports said.

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev hurried to Nazran from Moscow, amid fears that the 14-month Chechen war was spreading.

Russian troops surrounding the village of Arshty fired shells that exploded just 200 yards away from homes, and residents were hiding in their cellars, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. By midday, Russian units were positioned outside at least five other Ingush villages near the Chechen border, the Interfax news agency said.

Ingush officials accused Russian warplanes of bombing Arshty on Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding several others.

The Russian military has accused Chechen rebels of hiding in Ingush villages along the border.

Ingush officials have repeatedly pleaded with Moscow not to use Ingushetia as a staging ground for the war in Chechnya. Ingushetia has close ethnic and cultural ties with Chechnya, but it has tried to stay out of the war.

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