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Page last updated at 21:59 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 22:59 UK

Georgia accused of lethal attack

A South Ossetian border post (image from 1 August)
Georgia has refused to accept South Ossetia's independence

The separatist government in the breakaway province of South Ossetia has accused Georgia of killing six people and injuring seven in an attack.

It quoted hospital sources as saying five civilians and a peacekeeper from the Russian province of North Ossetia were killed.

Georgia said its forces had come under attack and had returned fire.

Skirmishes have erupted frequently along the border, with the two sides accusing each other of starting them.

South Ossetia fought a war to break away from Georgia during the collapse of the USSR at the beginning of the 1990s.

It has remained de facto independent, backed by Russia which has about 1,000 peacekeeping troops stationed there.

Georgia has been seeking to restore its control over both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway province backed by Russia.

'Mortars and snipers'

South Ossetia's separatist press committee named six people it said were killed on Friday.

BBC map showing Georgia and its breakaway regions

They died, it reported, in the outlying village of Satikari.

The head of the press committee, Irina Gagloyeva, said that Satikari and the separatist capital Tskhinvali had come under "massive fire" from snipers and mortars from 1800 local time (1400 GMT).

Peacekeepers, she added, were trying to negotiate a ceasefire with the Georgian authorities.

South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity accused Georgia of "attempting to spark a full-scale war".

Georgia's interior ministry said that Georgian checkpoints had come under fire first and troops had responded.

Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili also reported that South Ossetian forces had blown up a Georgian police car with a mine earlier on Friday, injuring six policemen.


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