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S. Ossetia puts troops on high alert over Georgia attack

RIA Novosti

02/08/2008 13:30 MOSCOW, August 2 (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia has not yet mobilized its population following border incidents allegedly provoked by Georgia but put its armed forces on high alert, the interior minister said on Saturday.

At least six people have been killed and 13 wounded late Friday-early Saturday in a series of gunfights along the border between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

"We have not yet issued orders for general mobilization but if similar incidents continue we will not only mobilize the population but will also immediately take other appropriate measures," Mikhail Mindzayev told RIA Novosti by phone from Tskhinvali.

The South Ossetian government held an emergency meeting on Saturday to analyze the current situation in the Georgia-S. Ossetia conflict zone.

"The meeting discussed a possible mobilization and the measures to ensure the safety of local residents," Mindzayev said. "If Georgia continues its provocations our republic will respond with all available forces and means."

South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Hundreds died in the bloody conflict that followed.

The pro-Western Georgian leadership has said it is determined to bring the region, along with another breakaway republic, Abkhazia, back under central control.

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