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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia, South Ossetia Trade Blame for Shelling

TBILISI -- Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia traded accusations Wednesday over shelling that broke out on the 15th anniversary of the separatist province's declaration of independence.

Ten people were wounded in the attack in the provincial capital Tskhinvali on Tuesday, including a 2-year-old who sustained grave chest wounds and was sent to Russia for treatment, said Ismel Shaov, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry in North Ossetia, just across the border.

South Ossetian authorities accused Georgian forces of staging the shelling. But Givi Targamadze, chairman of the Georgian parliament's defense and national security committee, called the shelling a "provocation" by the South Ossetian side, "shooting at their own population."

He said Georgia had high hopes for peaceful negotiations -- now involving the United States -- to settle the conflict.

The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, condemned the shelling and called for an urgent investigation. "The firing of heavy weapons into civilian areas is not only a serious breach of the cease-fire agreement, but it is also against all norms of civilized behavior and decency. I have no hesitation in totally condemning this act," he said, without indicating which side he believed to be at fault.

Meanwhile another separatist leader, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, who was in South Ossetia for the independence celebrations, ordered his forces on a heightened state of alert.

An official at the Abkhazian Defense Ministry said that the order had been put into effect immediately.