Report Says Short Circuit Led to Fatal Blast in Chechnya


A blast that killed at least 25 Russian servicemen in Chechnya on Saturday was the result of an electrical short circuit that caused an anti-mine device to explode, the Itar-Tass news agency said Sunday.

Quoting sources at Russian campaign headquarters in Mozdok, the news agency said the accident occurred while a sapper unit on the southern outskirts of the Chechen capital, Grozny, was readying a device to be used to explode mines by remote control.

"As a result of an accidental electrical short circuit, the device went off," it said.

Russian officials say more than 1,100 servicemen have died so far in the Chechnya conflict, which started Dec. 11 when the Kremlin sent in troops and armor to crush Chechnya's three-year independence bid.

Russian military officials say a huge proportion of Russian casualties in the campaign have been caused by either "friendly fire" or misuse or abuse of weapons by poorly trained troops.

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