In Chechnya, another day of Russian air raids begins
Putin says Russia won't repeat 1994 fiasco
September 27, 1999
From staff and wire reports
MOSCOW (CNN) -- For a fifth day, Russian pilots have struck at Islamic guerrillas based in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported Monday.
The Itar-Tass news agency said Sukhoi-25 jets struck industrial targets, including oil facilities, in the Chechen capital Grozny. In Moscow, the air force would neither confirm nor deny the reported raid.
Oil is widely seen as the main source of income for the separatists who have controlled Chechnya since a 1994-96 war against Russia, which killed tens of thousands died. The new raids came a day after news that Moscow is considering other means of bringing Islamic militants to heel, including a new incursion into Chechnya.
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev refused to rule out a ground offensive Sunday, though he said little about Russia's plans. Both the military and the country's prime minister expressed confidence that Russian forces would crush the guerrillas, who are accused of subvert Moscow's authority on Russia's southern fringe.
Sergeyev, visiting recuperating soldiers in a military hospital, said no ground operation would begin until the Russian air force had completed its mission by "ripping this infection from its roots."
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tried to reassure Russians there would be no repeat of the disastrous Chechen war.
"We will use the benefit of modern means to destroy the terrorists on the fringes. We will destroy their infrastructure," Putin told the daily Vremya in an interview published Monday. "There will be no frontal attacks. We will protect our people."
The Russian military so far has said it will continue to carry out "pinpoint" air raids on what it describes as terrorist camps and installations in Chechnya.
The new Russian air campaign has put Chechnya's television system and its mobile telephone network out of action. Thousands of civilians have fled the area.
The rebels have also been linked to a number of devastating bombings in a several Russian cities. Public opinion in Russia appears to favor tough action against them.
Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty and Reuters contributed to this report.
Kremlin debates land invasion in Chechnya
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