Source Pravda.Ru

Conflicting reports on exchange of fire between South Ossetia and Georgia

In the early hours of Monday, the capital of South Ossetia Tskhinvali was shelled from mortars and grenade launchers, Irina Gagloyeva, the chairman of the information and press committee of South Ossetia (self-proclaimed republic in Georgia), told RIA Novosti over the phone.

"We were shelled from about 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. with a small break," she said. "A concert was held on the central square but it had to be cancelled." In her words, the shelling was not targeted and there were no victims.

The spokeswoman for South Ossetia denied reports that South Ossetia had shelled Georgian settlements. "We did not open fire," she stressed, "our subdivisions have received clear orders not to."

Alexander Sukhitashvili, the police chief of the Shida Kartli district (Goriisky region of Georgia, neighbors South Ossetia), said that South Ossetian armed formations had shelled Georgian villages all night long. "The Ergneti settlement and Georgian settlements Didi and Liakhvi, were under fire all night long," he said. "The attack was from submachine guns and grenade launchers." He also stressed that the Georgian side did not return fire.

In regard to the incident on Sunday when Georgia detained a vehicle containing anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), Ms. Gagloyeva said, "none of the departments in Tskhinvali had anything to do with it. The man who was transporting the shells is a private person, a taxi driver. It is unclear where he obtained these weapons. Ms. Gagloyeva did not rule it out that this driver was "a dummy."

At a press conference on Sunday, Georgian Interior Minister Irakly Okruashvili said that Georgia's interior troops had had confiscated a truck containing ATGMs in the Tskhinvali district (Georgia's name for North Ossetia), the conflict zone.

"At about 7 p.m.," the minister said, "a truck loaded with Fagot ATGMs was detained near the Georgian settlement Kekhvi."

According to him, the truck was unescorted and the Ossetian driver was detained and interrogated. The truck was going from Tskhinvali to the Dzhavsky district.

The minister ruled out the possibility of the cargo belonging to Russian peacekeepers. According to him, it was very likely that the cargo belonged to the South Ossetian authorities.

Soon, all Georgian posts in the district will be reinforced with interior troops, said the Georgian interior minister.

The presidential press service told RIA Novosti that last night Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, Mr. Okruashvili and State Security Minister Vano Mirabishvili visited the Tskhinvali district.

Mr. Saakashvili visited the interior affairs headquarters, situated in the Eredvi settlement, as well as the adjoining territories.

When talking to representatives of the interior troops, he said that the weapons (one truck with Fagot ATGMs) confiscated on Sunday evening from the Ossetian side would not be returned.

On Monday, July 19, the Joint Control Commission will meet for another session in Tskhinvali, where representatives of the four sides - Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia and North Ossetia (a Russian republic) - will discuss the incident.

The commission has been controlling the situation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone since 1992.

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