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Russia's air force pumped up the pressure Saturday on breakaway Chechnya, knocking local television and radio off the air and sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing.

It was the third day of punishing airstrikes on the capital, Grozny. The air campaign, which had been focused on bombing suspected rebel bases, now is targeting economic installations and civilian communications facilities as well.

Warplanes bombed the republic's television station and damaged the equipment beyond repair, Russian media reported. Chechen officials said seven people were killed and 24 wounded in the overnight air raid on the television station.

The Russian military says it is trying to prevent incursions of Islamic militants from Chechnya into neighboring Dagestan. The militants, who want to establish an independent Islamic state in southern Russia, entered Dagestan and fought Russian forces in August and September. They have been linked to terrorist bombings that have killed 300 people in Moscow and other Russian cities this month.

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