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Chechen soldiers wash themselves before prayers prior to going into battle. In December 1994 Russian troops entered Chechnya in an attempt to quash the countryÕs independence movement.  Early promises of a quick victory were soon silenced as the Chechens put up fierce resistance to the Russian assault and the death toll mounted.  Up to 100,000 people Ð many of them civilians Ð are estimated to have been killed in the 20 month war that followed.