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8 Jul, 2008 10:34

Georgian military detained in South Ossetia

South Ossetian police have confirmed four people in Georgian military uniform – a colonel, two sergeants and a corporal – were detained in the breakaway republic. One of them was wearing the stripes of the Georgian Joint Staff. The G

South Ossetia’s press service reports that the “identities of the detained have been established and according to documents they had, they are officers of the Georgian Defence Ministry's artillery brigade.”

The press service added that “according to preliminary information obtained in the course of the investigation, the Georgian military were engaged in reconnaissance activities aimed at the organisation of work of artillery controllers.”

“At 1.30 am the group of four Georgian officers broke through our forces, knowing that they would not shoot at them, because there is an order not to open fire and not to provoke the Georgian side. So they broke through and we followed and detained them. They resisted so we had to use force. They are now being questioned,”  said Mikhail Mindzayev, South Ossetian Interior Minister.

It follows a number of shooting incidents in the region. Georgians and South Ossetians are blaming each other for opening fire and tensions are escalating.

The sides are being kept apart by the peacekeeping force. But the South Ossetian leader says they are ready to attack positions from which Georgians are firing at Tskhinvali.

“If they carry on firing at our settlements and our civilians, we'll take any measures necessary to defend our people,” said  Mindzaev.

Georgian spec-ops ready to strike

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili has ordered the Interior Ministry to prepare an operation to free the four captured soldiers.

South Ossetian authorities also say Georgia has transported about 300 ethnic Georgian children from its breakaway republic.