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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tensions Flare in S. Ossetia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Forces in Georgia and its breakaway province of South Ossetia are accusing each other of opening fire on settlements, a clash that left several people wounded, officials said, as tensions in the region spiraled.

Andrei Patayev, spokesman for separatist authorities, charged on Saturday that Georgian forces had opened fire with guns, grenades and mortars on South Ossetia's main city, Tskhinvali, wounding two residents.

Mamuka Kurashvili, head of the Georgian segment of the three-sided peacekeeping force in the province, which also includes South Ossetia and Russia, declined to comment on the allegations, but claimed separatist forces had shelled an ethnic Georgian village outside Tskhinvali, injuring three people.

The statements could not be independently confirmed.

On Thursday, hundreds of ethnic Georgians mobbed Russian peacekeeping forces, throwing paint and gasoline on the troops and forcing them to stop a road project.

Tensions persist in South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgian control during a war in the early 1990s. South Ossetia has cultivated close ties with Russia, however, and Georgia accuses Moscow of siding with the separatists.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Friday, urging Moscow "to stop supporting criminal regimes and instead develop a partnership with a neighboring state."