Georgia Says Drone Blast Kills 2

TBILISI, Georgia — An unmanned Russian spy plane crashed and exploded Monday near the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia, killing two soldiers and wounding eight, Georgian officials said.

Russia's Defense Ministry denied the report, calling it a "provocation."

Tensions remain high in areas near South Ossetia, where Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in August. Moscow has recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another separatist province, Abkhazia.

Two Georgian military combat engineers were killed when they approached the fallen drone near the northern village of Plavi and it exploded, Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said. Eight people, including seven other soldiers and a 10-year-old child, were wounded in the blast, he said.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said the Georgian claims were untrue. "This is another media provocation from the Georgian leadership," the spokesman said, Itar-Tass reported.

South Ossetian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Before the war, Abkhazia claimed to have shot down at least five Georgian reconnaissance drones. Georgia said Russian Air Force jets shot down the planes in violation of Georgian airspace and cease-fire agreements.

The West condemned Russia's actions as disproportionate in the war, but Moscow said Tbilisi was the aggressor. It said it had to intervene to protect Russian citizens. Most residents in the region have Russian passports. (AP, Reuters)