Soldier killed in Chechnya explosion: official

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One soldier was killed and another wounded when an explosive device went off in Russia's volatile Caucasus region of Chechnya, a regional official said on Friday.

Two interior ministry troops were on Thursday conducting engineering reconnaissance in a forest in the Urus-Martan district of Chechnya when the device went off, a regional official familiar with the situation, told AFP.

"As a result, one soldier died of his wounds," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the other was injured and hospitalised.

The Chechen branch of the interior ministry declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Late last week the body of a contract soldier with knife wounds to his groin was found on the bank of the Argun river in Chechnya.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus such as Dagestan and Ingushetia, where attacks occur on a nearly daily basis.

Kremlin's top ideologue Vladislav Surkov visited Chechnya last week, saying the country's political leadership would never agree to let the Caucasus become independent.

© 2010 AFP

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