Six killed in fighting in breakaway Georgian region

Six people from Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia were killed Friday by sniper and mortar fire from Georgian positions, the rebel province's government said.

"Six people have been killed and seven have been wounded" after Georgian forces fired on the rebel capital Tskhinvali with rifles and mortars, the rebel government said in a statement posted on its website.

Lana Parasayeva, a spokeswoman for the rebel government, told AFP that three members of South Ossetia's security forces were killed and four injured by sniper fire from Georgian positions.

Georgian forces later opened fire on Tskhinvali with heavy weapons, the rebels said, killing another three civilians and wounding three more.

"A mortar platoon of the Georgian Defence Ministry is purposefully shelling the southern part of Tskhinvali. The northern outskirts of the city are being fired upon as well," the rebel government said in a statement on its website. "The South Ossetian side has started returning fire."

South Ossetia's de facto president, Eduard Kokoity, told Interfax news agency that "our response to Tbilisi's aggressive actions will be very tough and hard-hitting.

"We reserve the right to strike Georgian cities. We have something that can reach them," he said.

[Source: Agence France-Presse, Tbilisi, 01Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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