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S.Ossetia says almost 1,500 locals killed in Georgia's attack

RIA Novosti

20/08/2008 14:21 TSKHINVALI, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - Authorities in Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia said on Wednesday that 1,492 of the province's residents were killed in Georgia's August 8 military offensive, according to revised data.

The authorities of the breakaway republic earlier put the number of deaths at over 2,000 people, almost all civilians, while Russia has estimated the figure at 1,600.

"At a meeting of the emergency commission on dealing with the consequences of Georgia's act of aggression, it was announced that 1,492 people were killed in Georgia's attack on South Ossetia," spokeswoman Irina Gagloyeva said.

Gagloyeva said that at least 170 people are still being held by Georgia as hostages. "These are civilians, taken hostage by Georgia's military officers," she said. Tbilisi has denied taking hostages, she said.

Georgia's major ground and air offensive to seize control of South Ossetia prompted Russia to send several hundred tanks and thousands of troops into the region, and later into nearby parts of Georgia proper.

As a result of Georgia's attack, South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was largely destroyed, and gas and electricity were cut off. Prior to the operation, Georgia had destroyed the water supply utilities, leaving locals without drinking water.

Electricity supplies were partially resumed on Wednesday at key facilities in Tskhinvali, including bakeries and hospitals. Russia's chief sanitary official, Gennady Onishchenko, said water supplies will be soon restored in the devastated city.

Moscow announced the end of its operation to "force Georgia to peace" on August 12. Some 37,000 people also fled the onslaught into Russia. Most residents of South Ossetia have Russian citizenship.

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