Several hurt in new Georgia clash
Thursday, 07 August 2008
Georgian and separatist South Ossetian forces have exchanged fire again near the town of Tskhinvali, wounding several people, officials say
Georgian television said there were wounded on both sides. A South Ossetian report spoke of 18 wounded.
Russia has close ties to the separatist administration in Tskhinvali.
Russian and Georgian officials are due to hold talks shortly aimed at defusing the tensions in South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the 1990s.
At least six people have been killed in clashes in the region in recent days.
Russia's special envoy to the region, Yuri Popov, has gone to the Georgian capital Tbilisi for the talks, but South Ossetia has refused to take part, saying it will only agree to a meeting at which the Russian region of North Ossetia is also represented.
"The South Ossetian side, in connection with recent events, has voiced doubts about holding such negotiations. If this is the case, then I... will conduct shuttle negotiations," Popov said.
The Ossetians have traditionally had good relations with Russia - unlike some of their Caucasus neighbours - and North Ossetia is part of the Russian Federation.
The South Ossetian news website Cominf.org said 18 people were wounded in shelling overnight by Georgian forces deployed around Tskhinvali. There was no independent confirmation of that figure.
Georgia's interior ministry said South Ossetian forces had started the latest fighting.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin discussed the latest escalation with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity and "they voiced concern about the actions of the Georgian side near Tskhinvali, which can be regarded as preparations for war," the Russian foreign ministry said.
Separately, Kokoity warned that his forces would drive Georgian troops from their positions near Tskhinvali if the shelling continued.
Georgian-Russian relations have been tense for months, with Georgia accusing Russia of actively supporting the separatists in South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia.
Russia is hostile to Georgia's ambition to join Nato and has accused Georgia of building up its forces around the breakaway regions, where Russian peacekeeping troops are deployed.
» No Comments
There are no comments up to now.
» Post Comment