Civilians flee Chechnya
GENEVA, Aug. 7 (UNHCR) - The number of civilians leaving Chechnya increased in recent days because of fears of renewed clashes between Russian troops and Chechen fighters, UNHCR monitors reported Tuesday.
More than 700 persons crossed into neighbouring Ingushetia through the main Kavkaz checkpoint August 4, the majority from the Chechen capital of Grozny. The border was closed Sunday and Monday. At the smaller Spartak crossing point there were 20 weekend arrivals and 40 on Monday.
August 6 was the date of a major battle in 1996 and the date named by Chechen rebels as Independence Day, and there were widespread fears fighting could erupt on or around this sensitive period.
Some new arrivals said they intended to stay on temporarily and hoped to return to Chechnya in the coming weeks. An estimated 150,000 displaced persons from Chechnya are living in Ingushetia.