- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

NAZRAN, Russia (AP) — Rebels in breakaway Chechnya shot down a Russian helicopter yesterday, killing two generals and eight colonels, and attacked the republic's second-biggest city in the largest rebel assault in months.
The officers were members of a general staff team on an inspection trip to the rebel region, the Russian military commander in Chechnya, Col. Gen. Valery Baranov, said on Russia's RTR state television.
Rebels fired a portable surface-to-air missile at the Mi-8 helicopter after it took off from the Chechen capital, Grozny, killing the 10 officers and three crew members, Gen. Baranov said.
Also yesterday, rebels attacked Russian outposts on the outskirts of Gudermes, Chechnya's No. 2 city, where many officials in the region's Kremlin-appointed administration are based. Rebels came at the city, 20 miles east of Grozny, from different directions firing automatic weapons and grenade launchers.
It was a brazen assault on one of the first cities seized by the Russians after troops entered Chechnya in September 1999, and one full of Russians and Moscow-backed Chechens. The attack was a well-coordinated action by the rebels, who have focused over most of the past year on small-scale raids and planting mines.
At least 10 Russian soldiers died in the gunbattle, which lasted for several hours, Kremlin envoy Sergei Yastrzhembsky said on Russian television. He said Russian forces responded with aircraft and artillery strikes and had cleared out most rebels by evening.
Gen. Baranov said Russian troops killed at least 15 rebels.

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