Source AP ©

Blast in South Ossetia kills local police chief

An explosion killed a local police chief early Thursday in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, officials said. Georgian forces denied responsibility for the attack.

The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian peacekeeper in the region as saying a bomb was installed in a toilet outside his home, suggesting Nodar Bibilov was deliberately assassinated.

"The action was deliberate. The perpetrators planned to kill that particular person," said Capt. Vladimir Ivanov, according to Interfax.

Irina Gagloyeva, a spokeswoman for South Ossetia's unrecognized separatist government, told The Associated Press that two previous attempts had been made on Bilibov's life. Gagloyeva blamed Georgia's secret services of planning the attack.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili denied the accusation.

News of Bibilov's came as Georgian officials reported that Dmitry Sanakoev, recognized by Georgia as South Ossetia's leader, escaped a roadside bomb attack.

Sanakoyev's SUV rode over a mine planted in the road, Utiashvili said. When it exploded, the cortege was ambushed by gun-wielding attackers. Three bodyguards were critically wounded but Sanakoyev was unhurt.

Gagloyeva confirmed the attack.

South Ossetia is one of two Georgian regions to have fallen under the control of separatists with independent ties to Moscow. The other, Abkhazia, has also been tense in recent months amid Russian contentions that Georgia is preparing to reassert control of the area by force.

Georgia accuses Russia of aiming to absorb the regions.

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