Georgia, South Ossetia Trade Accusations For Cross-Border Shootings

TBILISI (Eurasianet)–Officials in Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia are reporting an exchange of gunfire late on July 29, with both sides blaming the other for opening fire first.

In a July 30 statement, Georgia’s Interior Ministry claimed that two Georgian villages along the administrative border with South Ossetia, Nikozi and Zemo Khviti, underwent an hour-long assault from “automated firearms, machine guns and rocket launchers” allegedly located in South Ossetia.

The ministry said that all attempt to contact Russian troop commanders stationed in South Ossetia to clarify the reason for the incident have failed.

South Ossetian officials, however, say that Georgian shelling struck the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. South Ossetian leader Edward Kokoity accused European Union monitors who patrol the border areas of condoning the alleged attacks, the Interfax news agency reported. South Ossetia does not allow the European Union Monitoring Mission onto their territory.

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