VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia – A rebel ambush and other attacks killed five Russian soldiers and wounded 11 others in and around the breakaway republic of Chechnya, officials said Saturday.
The latest bloodshed in the region — which nearly every day sees small but deadly rebel attacks — came as Russian President Vladimir Putin (search) tried to convince world leaders gathered in St. Petersburg that his policies would bring peace to Chechnya (search).
The ambush took place in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia (search), at a village about a mile from the Chechen border, a spokeswoman for the Ingush Interior Ministry said.
Two soldiers were killed and five wounded in the ambush Friday night, and during a rescue operation two police officers and a soldier were wounded when a mine exploded, said the spokeswoman, Madina Khadziyeva.
In the mountains of southern Chechnya, Russian artillery shelled rebel positions. Two Russian soldiers were killed and 6 others were wounded when Russian outposts came under fire, according an official in the Chechen administration, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another Russian soldier was killed when his armored personnel carrier detonated a mine.
Russian soldiers detained at least 200 Chechens as they tried to ferret out rebels from the civilian population, the official said.
Although Russian forces vastly outnumber the rebels and have superior weaponry, the rebels counteract with stealth and small hit-and-run attacks, even within the republic's capital, Grozny, which has an enormous Russian military presence.
Putin was meeting with European and other world leaders — including President Bush on Sunday — in St. Petersburg to underline Russia's connection with Europe. EU officials were pressing for a the Kremlin's commitment to human rights a peaceful resolution in war-torn Chechnya.