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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Georgian forces block road to S. Ossetia

MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian Special Forces have blocked a road leading to the country's breakaway republic of South Ossetia following shootouts on the border, the republic's Interior Ministry said Tuesday. South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a bloody conflict ensued in the region. The current Georgian leadership is determined to bring the separatist region back under its control, and shootouts are not uncommon in the conflict zone. The Collective Peacekeeping Force stationed in the region since the conflict erupted have reported cases of sporadic fire on the Georgian-South Ossetian border over the last two days, with two Georgian policemen wounded in the latest attack.

"The South Ossetian Interior Ministry's press service reported that masked and armed special task troops blocked a road between the towns of Ergneti and Tirdznisi, and [the republic's capital of] Tskhinvali," the republic's information committee said. The committee said vehicles and pedestrians were being barred from moving on to Tskhinvali, which resulted in a serious traffic jam and which the Georgian Defense Ministry said was a measure to avert a threat to the lives and safety of Georgians in Tskhinvali. Marat Kulakhmetov, the commander of the Collective Peacekeeping Force, which is represented by Georgian, South Ossetian and Russian troops, confirmed that the Georgian authorities blocked the road. "This has been done for security reasons, to prevent unwanted incidents between Georgian and Ossetian people, as the situation has escalated."
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