Georgia attacks breakaway South Ossetia, 15 killed (Second lead)August 8th, 2008 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, Aug 8 (RIA Novosti) Georgian military invaded the capital of breakaway South Ossetia Friday with tanks and infantry and bombed a village, killing at least 15 civilians, the government of the rebel province said. The attack came only hours after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared a unilateral ceasefire late Thursday, shortly before the UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting amid fears of a full-scale war breaking out in the region.
The South Ossetian government said Georgian tanks and infantry attacked Tskhinvali and that a large part of the city has been destroyed.
More than 15 civilians were killed, the parliament building was destroyed and several buildings in the city centre were on fire, the government said.
Situated in south Caucasus, South Ossetia was formerly a part Georgia during in the Soviet rule. The province, together with another province Abkhajia, declared independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union but was not recognised by any UN member.
The rebel government said Georgian Su-25 Frogfoot attack planes bombed the South Ossetian village of Kvernet as well as a humanitarian aid convoy.
At the Security Council session, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called on the council to intervene to stop violence in the region.
The Kremlin said Russia’s leadership was holding emergency talks in an effort to peacefully resolve the crisis and was considering urgent measures to end the violence.
A correspondent for Georgia’s Imedi radio said Tskhinvali has now been seized by Georgia, but the report has not been confirmed by other sources.
Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze said Georgia would continue its military operation until peace was established.
“The goal of Georgia’s actions in the conflict zone is to establish peace in the region. And we will not stop until we have attained this goal,” he said.
He said the country would offer an amnesty to South Ossetia’s leaders, and provide over $35 million in reconstruction aid for the province.