Military officials in Russia say six Chechen rebels have been killed in a clash with Russian commandos south of the provincial capital, Grozny.

A military spokesman said Monday Russian forces on an overnight mission Sunday in the North Caucasus region ambushed the guerrillas near two villages, Starye Atagi and Novye Atagi. 

A spokesman for the Chechen rebels denies the clash took place and accuses the Russian military of spreading disinformation to discredit a cease-fire called by rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov.

Russian officials have consistently refused to hold any talks with Mr. Maskhadov, whom they call a terrorist and accuse of attacking civilians. 

Russian forces have been battling Chechen insurgents for much of the past decade.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.