Grozny Assault Underway - Troops Enter Outskirts
The Moscow Times reports that Russian troops have blasted their way into the outskirts of the Chechen capital of Grozny and are now engaging rebel soldiers in the besieged city.
A Chechen web site confirms a full-scale assault on the city is now underway. "The storming of the Chechen capital is underway practically at full scale. The outskirts are under uninterrupted attack from virtually all directions," said Movladi Udugov, a Chechen spokesperson and manager of the Kavkaz.org web site.
The city has been heavily shelled by Russian tanks which are massing three kilometres to the Southwest of Grozny and Russian commanders have said commandos and reconnaisance troops have penetrated the outskirts of Grozny.
These reports are unable to be confirmed however the Russian military say most fighting is occuring in the East of Grozny around the city’s airport.
Many of the refugees who have not fled the city are elderly and they remain trapped in bunkers. Russian troops gave residents of the city until last weekend to evacuate but backed away from the dealine.
The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed Russian jets and artillery had attacked Chechen rebels in a dozen villages and the only other large town, the rebel stronghold of Shali, had been taken by the Russians.
In Moscow, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said just over 2,000 Chechens had fled Grozny through the designated ‘safe corridors’ to date but that this figure was expected to rise. He said buses were being readies for the remaining people left in the city – estimated to be between 8,000 – 30,000.