Russian invaders blown up in Tskhinvali. One of the occupation ringleaders killed

12.jpgA car exploded outside Russia’s occupation headquarters in South Ossetia yesterday, killing seven invaders in what leaders of the Moscow-backed separatist region immediately described as a “terrorist attack” launched from Georgia.

 

One of the victims of Friday explosion in Tskhinvali became the head of the joined headquarters of Russian invaders in South Ossetia, colonel Ivan Petrik. According to the head of Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia Mikhail Mindzayev, Petrik was killed by shrapnel in his office – the car was blown up directly under his window.

 

The blast came amid continuing tensions in the area as a cease-fire deadline approached for Russian occupation troops to withdraw from territory around the breakaway republic, which has declared its independence from Georgia.

 

Russian forces had seized the car in a Georgian village outside South Ossetia and taken it to Tskhinvali, the capital, where it exploded, a South Ossetian spokeswoman said on Russian state television. The station showed ambulances rushing from the scene as thick smoke filled the air.

 

The death of Russian soldiers could jeopardize the cease-fire brokered by European leaders last month. Russia invaded Georgia and routed its forces in a five-day war in August after a Georgian attack on South Ossetia killed several Russian peacekeepers stationed there.

 

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the explosion as a “crime” by forces determined to destabilize the region and undermine the cease-fire, the official RIA-Novosti news agency said.

 

The South Ossetian leader, Eduard Kokoity, was more direct. “The latest terrorist attacks in South Ossetia prove that Georgia has not renounced its policy of state terrorism,” he said on Russian television. “We have no doubt that these terrorist acts are the work of Georgia special forces.”

 

The Georgian government denied the charges. “If provocations and tensions are in the interest of anyone, it’s the Russians,” Shota Utiashvili, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told the Reuters news agency. “They are doing everything not to pull troops out within the set term.”

 

Kulakhmetov said Russian soldiers in Tskhinvali were searching two cars that had been seized in the Georgian village of Ditsa when a device in one of the cars detonated with the power of about 50 pounds of dynamite.

 

He said Russian troops had detained four individuals, apparently ethnic Georgians, with the cars and confiscated weapons from them. It was unclear whether they remained in Russian custody or were hurt in the explosion.

 

The South Ossetian spokeswoman, Irina Gagloeva, said the explosion appeared to have been triggered remotely and damaged buildings in a 500-meter radius.

 

South Ossetian authorities also reported that a local official narrowly escaped an assassination attempt yesterday after a road bomb exploded near his car.

 

Russia has recognized South Ossetia and another separatist Georgian enclave, Abkhazia, as independent nations and argued that its troops are needed in a buffer zone around the two regions to prevent attacks from Georgia.

 

But President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia agreed last month to pull the troops from the Georgian buffer zones back into South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Oct. 11 and allow European observers to take their place.

 

Some troops have already been withdrawn, and European monitors arrived this week despite a lingering dispute over whether they will also be allowed to operate inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

 

The explosion occurred as European Union monitors are replacing Russian troops – officially peacekeepers – in territory ringing South Ossetia. There was no immediate indication yesterday that Russia would abandon its commitment to withdraw the troops from the buffer zone next week.

Source: Agencies

Kavkaz Center

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