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4 Jul, 2008 06:38

South Ossetia threatens Georgia with retaliation

South Ossetia says it will move heavy weaponry into the conflict zone with Georgia unless attacks on the republic are stopped, according to the breakaway republic's President, Eduard Kokoity. It's been confirmed that at

Mortars and grenades were used in what turned out to be a deadly attack.

The breakaway republic immediately said the fire was coming from Georgia and announced a full mobilisation of its forces.

Georgia, however, claims it had to return fire after its police checkpoints were attacked by South Ossetian gunmen.

“We had shootings from both sides which were started by the Ossetian side. The shooting took place almost all night long with some intervals. From the Georgian side we do not have casualties,” said Shota Utiashvili from Georgia’s Interior Ministry.

Tensions are not uncommon on the de facto border between South Ossetia and Georgia.

The republic declared independence in the early 1990s but was not recognised internationally.

A violent conflict followed and peacekeepers from a joint control commission have been stationed in the region since.

According to the contingent's commander, Marat Kulakhmetov, Georgia has reinforced its military presence in the area.

The South Ossetian Interior Ministry has warned of retaliation if Georgian attacks continue.

“I want to repeat that if the Georgian side again launches similar attacks on the city, we will have to take return steps, which will be very effective and very painful for Georgia,” said Mikhail Mindzaev, South Ossetian Interior Minister .