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Georgian Forces Clash With South Ossetian Separatists

10 August 2004 -- Georgian forces exchanged fire with South Ossetian separatists for several hours today near the breakaway region's capital, Tskhinvali.

A spokesman for the Georgian Defense Ministry, Guran Donadze, said no casualties were reported in the clashes, in which the two sides traded gun and mortar fire for nearly six hours.

Russia's Interfax news agency says a South Ossetian spokeswoman, Irina Gagloeva, claimed that Georgian forces started the fighting and accused them of seeking to frighten the region's population by creating an "unbearable psychological climate."

South Ossetia secceded from Tbilisi's central control after a war in the early 1990s. Many citizens of the de facto independent republic seek to reunite with their brethren in Russia's North Ossetia, but Tbilisi recently renewed its pledge to reassert central control over the province.