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Separatists Disarm Georgian Peacekeepers

8 July 2004 -- A group of separatists in Georgia's South Ossetia province have raided a village and disarmed peacekeepers dispatched by the central government.

Russian news agencies reported that the rebels, after disarming approximately 50 Georgian peacekeepers in the village of Venati, conducted a house-to-house search among the mostly ethnic Georgian population.

The incident came a day after Georgia intercepted a convoy of 10 trucks carrying Russian servicemen and arms in South Ossetia. Russia says the equipment was destined for Russian peacekeeping forces in the separatist republic and had been agreed ahead of time.

Georgia accused Russia of supplying arms to the separatists.

South Ossetia has run its own affairs since it broke away from Tbilisi's control in a war that ended in 1992. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has made reimposing central authority over the region a top priority.