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Russian troops battled rebels on Chechnya's southern border today, while militants controlling the center of the capital, Grozny, held off Russian attacks.

Fighting broke out in the southern mountains early today when Chechen rebels tried to break through to neighboring Georgia, said Col. Sergei Bundarev, a Russian border guards commander. He said the militants were trying to cut through a key road that Russian border guards had sealed. No troop casualties were reported.

Russian forces also were fighting to take control of Zandak and Zandak-Ara, two mountain villages on Chechnya's border with the Russian region of Dagestan. Twelve rebels were killed and two of their military vehicles were destroyed Wednesday, said Col. Gennady Alyokhin, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

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