Frontline Cinema

ZAUR ESKIRKHANOV/CHECHENFILMS

CASUALTY OF WAR: A Chechen woman mourns her dead brother in Marsho

The time: late last year. The scene: the Pankisi Valley, a lawless corner of Georgia just over the mountains from Chechnya that is a safe haven for drug dealers, kidnappers, Chechen guerrillas and, if U.S. officials are right, a small number of al-Qaeda operatives. A Russian military jeep drives up a narrow, winding track and is ambushed by bearded gunmen. In the resulting firefight, one of the attackers is killed.

Such skirmishes happen almost daily in Chechnya, where Russia is fighting a war against separatist guerrillas. Just last week Chechen rebels shot down a Russian helicopter in neighboring...

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