Russians Propose 48-Hour Truce Tanks And Artillery Continue To Hammer Chechnya’s Capital
At the end of a day of brutal fighting, the Russian government late Monday offered a 48-hour cease-fire “to prevent further bloodshed.”
Russian tanks and artillery hammered Grozny’s heart with hundreds of shells and rockets as outnumbered Chechen rebels fought to hold the presidential palace and other key installations.
The Russian cease-fire offer, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, was set to begin at 8 a.m. today (9 p.m. Monday PST). It was unclear whether Russia would halt its offensive without the Chechens’ agreement to its terms, including laying down arms and retreating from their positions.
The offer restated the key Russian demand - restoring Moscow’s control over the breakaway republic.
There was no immediate Chechen response.
Russian troops pushed into Chechen positions from several directions on a chilly, overcast day, and the independent news agency Interfax said they controlled two-thirds of the capital.
Chechen fighters armed with rocket grenades ducked in and out of shattered buildings, trying to knock out Russian tanks. Artillery shells and rockets slammed into buildings around the palace.
There were strong indications of preparations for another major assault, with dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers moving toward Grozny and others dug in at new locations around the city.
Large transport planes carrying Russian troops and supplies landed every half-hour at two nearby Russian air bases, apparently ferrying in more reinforcements for the offensive, which began Dec. 11.
The Russian government claimed its troops had advanced to within a few hundred yards of the palace and had the building - the center of Chechen government - “completely blocked.” It also claimed 500 Chechen fighters had been killed by Russian troops in the previous 24 hours.
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