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4 Feb, 2007 03:00

South Ossetia's capital under fire

South Ossetia's capital under fire

The situation in the capital of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia has been brought under control after it came under heavy gunfire earlier. The Defence Ministry claims the shots came from villages inside Georgia.

There are injuries in the capital, including a policeman, according to reports. 

Mikhail Mindzayev, the republic’s Minister of Internal Affairs, said the fire was launched against the southern outskirts of the city from the neighboring Georgian villages of Ergneti and Nikozi.

Tbilisi, however, claims it's “misinformation”.

The Commander of the Georgian part of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces insists the South Ossetianians were first to open the fire.

Earlier in the week, Mr Mindzayev accused Georgian Special Forces of launching attacks against some military posts.  

Irina Gagloeva, a representative for the South Ossetia Information Committee, suggests that the Georgian military is involved.  

“Today at 9.30 pm firing started from the Georgian side towards the southern and central part of the city of Tskhinvali. The gunfire went on for around an hour-and-a-half. First, it started from the side of the Georgian village of Ergneti, later they were joined by military units of the Georgian Defence ministry located in Nikozi and by other Georgian military posts. There was gunfire from three sides. As a result, there are wounded already. One person is in hospital. Military observers confirmed the fire started from the Georgian side.”  

The Defence Ministry of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia said the attack in the city of Tskhinvali, had been brought under control. 

Earlier, Russian Special Forces killed four militants during a raid in the Russian republic of Ingushetia.  

One police officer is reported to have been injured after a five-storey building, where the militants were hiding, was stormed in the town of Malgobek.  

According to the Interior Ministry, the militants were suspects in the recent attempt on the life of the Republic’s Chief Muslim Cleric on Wednesday.  

The Russian republic of Ingushetia which was formed in 1992 – is an agricultural area with no history of military violence. But recently, attacks on local policemen and authorities have been on the increase, included some killings. Special Forces in the republic have been forced to launch counter terrorism raids.