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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 17, 2002


High-ranking Russian officer killed in Chechen fighting

High-ranking Russian officer killed in Chechen fighting

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- A high-ranking Russian officer was killed and a top Chechen official abducted at gunpoint in new fighting in the southern Russian republic, an official said Saturday.

Unidentified attackers opened fire on a vehicle carrying Lt. Gen. Igor Shifrin, the head of Russian military construction, in the Chechen capital Grozny on Friday night. Shifrin was killed and his driver was wounded, said an official in the Moscow-backed administration in Chechnya.

In a separate incident, a group of masked gunmen stopped a car carrying Chechen transport minister Said Ali Ediyev and two of his aides.

The gunmen tied up Ediyev and the other passengers, threw hoods over their heads, and sped off. After a short distance, the minister and one of his aides were thrown out of the car, while the other aide was taken away.

Chechen Security Council Secretary Rudnik Dudayev called the abduction part of a series of provocations against officials in the Moscow-backed government in Chechnya, the Interfax news agency reported.

Oil slick reaches Spanish coast

MADRID, Spain -- Small portions of an oil slick reached the coast of northwest Spain on Saturday after a heavily loaded oil tanker ruptured several days ago in a storm.

The Bahamian-registered Prestige, with most of its 85,000-ton cargo, remained tenuously secured to tugboats about 104 miles into the Atlantic Ocean -- in rough weather, unable to proceed under its own power, and with a 50-foot crack in its hull below the waterline.

"Ideally, we'd like to get it to a point of shelter. But due to the storm, that doesn't look possible. We'll just have to wait for the bad weather to change," Lars Walder of the SMIT salvage company said from Holland.

The tanker sprang a leak Wednesday during a storm. The vessel is considered to be vulnerable because its hull has no outer casing for extra protection against leakage.

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