Nearly 3,500 Russian troops killed in Chechnya since September 1999

The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday nearly 3,500 Russian troops have been killed in Chechnya since Russian forces moved back into the region in September 1999.

In a statement on the Defense Ministry's website, the ministry said 3,459 Russian troops had been killed and 32 had gone missing in Chechnya since September 1999.

Since the start of 2005, 67 troops had been killed and four soldiers had gone missing in Chechnya. In July alone, 14 troops died, 12 of them in combat, the ministry said.

Russia forces left the Caucasus region in 1996 after 20 months of fighting with Chechen separatists and re-entered the war- ravaged region in September 1999 following a series of deadly bombings in Russian cities blamed on the rebels.

The Russian government intensified operations to rein in separatists in the breakaway republic since the Beslan school siege, which killed over 330 people last September in the southern republic of North Ossetia.

Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said last month federal forces killed more than 70 rebels in the first half of this year.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---