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Two Georgian troops killed in shootout in breakaway S. Ossetia

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Two Georgian special troops were shot dead in a shootout in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, the interior minister of the unrecognized republic said Sunday.
MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - Two Georgian special troops were shot dead in a shootout in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, the interior minister of the unrecognized republic said Sunday.

Mikhail Mindzayev said South Ossetia's police and Georgian special troops clashed Sunday afternoon near the village of Didmukha located 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from Tskhinvali, the capital of the unrecognized republic.

"We know that Georgian law-enforcement structures are dispatching their special troops to the conflict area allegedly to fight smuggling. In actual fact, they study the terrain, fire at our posts and carry out subversive activities," Mindzayev said.

According to the South Ossetia interior minister, a subversive group of four men tried to enter the village of Didmukha. Upon an attempt to stop them, two Georgian special troops went out of the car and opened fire at South Ossetia police. As a result, two Georgians were killed.

The other two Georgians continued to conduct fire, until South Ossetia police retreated and the mixed peacekeeping force in the conflict area arrived at the scene, the minister said.

However, Georgia has not confirmed the reports about a clash in the Tskhinvali district.

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that killed hundreds in 1991-1992. The pro-Western Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili has said it is determined to bring the breakaway region back under its control.

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