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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blast Kills a Top South Ossetian

TBILISI, Georgia -- A bomb blast killed the top security official in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia on Sunday, heightening tension between Tbilisi and pro-Moscow separatists.

Oleg Alborov, the head of the region's security council, died when a remote-controlled explosive device detonated as he was opening his garage, said the region's emergency situations minister, Boris Chochiyev.

"South Ossetia's law enforcement bodies believe that an act of terror was committed, and its tracks lead to Tbilisi," he said. "This is an ordered killing."

Tbilisi reacted angrily, dismissing the accusations. "We have nothing whatsoever to do with this killing," said Giorgy Kahindrava, the Georgian minister in charge of dealing with breakaway regions.

Russian General Marat Kulakhmetov, who commands mixed Russian, Georgian and Ossetian troops protecting the fragile peace in the area, said Sunday's incident had been "thoroughly planned, and aimed to shatter the situation in the conflict zone."

"Such provocative actions do not help the establishment of relations of trust between the conflict sides and can bring the already tense situation to the boil," he said, Itar-Tass reported.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's pledges to regain Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a source of friction with Moscow, which has banned imports of Georgian wines and mineral water in what Tbilisi sees as a punishment for its pro-Western stance.

On Saturday, Russian guards closed the only overland border pass with Georgia, citing construction work. Hundreds of cars bound for Russia were blocked. Georgian diplomats angrily accused Moscow of unfriendly behavior and political pressure.

(Reuters, AP)