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30 Jul, 2009 20:49

South Ossetia under fire from Georgian territory

One year since the military conflict in the Caucasus, it is feared that hostilities might resume. South Ossetian authorities claim the republic’s capital Tskhinval was attacked from a Georgian village.

Two shells were reportedly fired from around five kilometers away from the Georgian village of Nikozi during the night. Luckily, no one was injured, a source at the Ossetian Defense Ministry told Interfax agency.

This follows reports that one man has been killed and several people injured at the border between Georgia and South Ossetia.

According to a source at the South Ossetian information ministry, quoted by RIA Novosti agency, the shells targeted residential buildings.

The source added that it is the first case of Tskhinval coming under fire since the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in August last year.

At the same time, Tbilisi claims its village was also fired upon from South Ossetian territory.

The Georgian Interior Ministry has stated that fire was opened at around 11:30pm on Wednesday, targeting two villages – Khviti and Nikozi – and a police checkpoint. “Intensive shooting from assault rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers lasted for an hour.”

On Thursday, conflicting reports by Georgian TV channels say one man has been killed and three injured in a blast on the border with South Ossetia.

Eduard Kokoity, the South Ossetian president, says the blast was caused by mines laid by Georgians themselves along the border.

He says the mines are intended to stop Georgian nationals from returning to the republic.

“Many South Ossetian citizens of Georgian origin, who want to return to their homes, are forced to go around Georgian posts, and the Georgian side – in order to stop them from crossing to South Ossetia – has started mining the routes which bypass the posts,” explains Eduard Kokoity.

It is not known exactly who opened fire. Still, the Georgian village of Nikozy is only five kilometers from Tskhinval, which makes it an ideal spot for staging attacks on Tskhinval. This has been the first report of shelling between the two sides since the conflict last August when Georgian troops invaded South Ossetia.

On August 8, 2008 Georgia launched a military offensive against its breakaway republic of South Ossetia with an intense bombardment of, among other targets, the Russian peacekeepers’ headquarters and residential areas in Tskhinval.

Two days later, the attack was repelled by the Russian army. The war lasted less than a week and paved the way for the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.