|Georgia Says Russia Shoots, Wounds Two People on Disputed Border|
|Friday, 20 May 2011|
By Helena Bedwell
Georgia said Russian forces based in South Ossetia shot and wounded two Georgian civilians, one 17 years old, on the border of the separatist region yesterday, the first such incident since March 2009.
The shooting occurred after Russian troops attempted to detain five young men from a nearby village who were collecting edible plants, the government said today in an e-mailed statement. In a separate incident, four Georgian citizens were “illegally” apprehended, according to the statement.
South Ossetia said a group of Georgian citizens crossed the border illegally and were detained, the New York-based Georgian Daily website reported yesterday, citing a statement from the region’s security service. Unidentified people then fired on South Ossetian border guards in an effort to free those detained, the website said, adding that fire was returned.
Russia defeated Georgia in a five-day war over South Ossetia in August 2008. While Russia recognizes the region as an independent state and has agreed to defend its borders, Georgia still claims sovereignty over the territory.
Georgia’s Interior Ministry disputed the South Ossetian account of yesterday’s incident, saying no shots were fired from its sided of the border.
A European Union monitoring mission was informed and sent a patrol to investigate, Ia Makharashvili, spokeswoman for Georgia’s Foreign Ministry, said today by phone. South Ossetia has made no contact with Georgia over the matter, she said.
“We urge all parties to exercise restraint in the wake of the incident, to share fully all details with the European Union Monitoring Mission and to participate as soon as possible in an ad hoc meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism,” the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said yesterday in a statement on its website. “This incident highlights the ongoing need for EUMM access to both sides of the administrative boundary line.”
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