The Russian military said its warplanes bombed guerrilla positions inside Chechnya along its border with Dagestan Friday night and early Saturday as Moscow dispatched fresh armor and troops to the region.
The bombings are targeting Chechen rebels, who recently have made incursions into Dagestan in a bid to establish an independent Islamic republic.
They also are a measure of retaliation for the five bombings that have killed nearly 300 Russians during the last two weeks. Russian officials have blamed the blasts on the Chechen rebels, who in turn have denied responsibility.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa Saturday, Canada and Russia said they wanted the Group of Eight major industrial powers to hold a special summit to discuss ways to fight terrorism.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, speaking after talks with Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, said the two men would propose the idea at a meeting of G8 foreign ministers this week in New York.
Speaking in Ottawa, Ivanov said terrorism was now a world problem and could be tackled only if major powers worked together. Officials at the talks said Ivanov accused extremists in Saudi Arabia and other countries of financing the Chechen gangs.
"This is one of the most dangerous challenges the world is currently facing, and we have to urgently agree to joint actions to tackle it," Ivanov told reporters after the talks with Axworthy.
In Washington, President Clinton issued a message of sympathy and outrage Saturday over the Russian apartment bombings, likening them to the attacks at Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center and two U.S. embassies.
"We share your outrage over these cowardly acts," Clinton said in a message to the Russian people. "We know what kind of pain such tragedies can cause. Our own citizens have suffered from repeated acts of terrorism."
Clinton noted that 168 Americans were killed in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995 and mentioned the 1993 blast at the World Trade Center in New York and last year's bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
"The crimes they suffered remind us that terrorism knows no borders and that acts of terror anywhere are a threat to humanity everywhere," Clinton said.
"While we stand united with you in our grief, we also stand united with you in our resolve that terrorism will not go unpunished and will not undermine the work of democracy."
The Chechen rebels currently hold no positions in Dagestan, but Russian military officials said they are bracing for the third major offensive since hostilities began in early August.
Rather than send in troops, Russian commanders have decided to try to pound the guerrillas from the air, and they said nearly 100 bombing runs were planned for Saturday.
Russian military officials announced they were sending two battalions of flame-throwing tanks and 200 trained snipers to Dagestan.
Hundreds of soldiers are being dispatched to the combat zone, in part to set up a cordon along the border with Chechnya and in part out of anticipation of a fresh guerrilla offensive. Few details of the bombing runs were available Saturday.