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Tensions Heighten In South Ossetia

12 June 2004 -- Tensions mounted in South Ossetia today as Georgian authorities said that a column of vehicles carrying troops and weapons from Russia has entered the separatist region.

Georgian Interior Minister Irakly Okruashvili said that the Georgian government will move additional forces to the area if need be.

Russia's Defense Ministry and South Ossetian officials deny any cross-border military movements. A Russian military official in Russia's North Ossetia says food, fuel, and other supplies have been sent to Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

Interfax quoted South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity as saying humanitarian aid had entered the region due to a virtual blockade by Georgia for three months. The Russian news agency quoted him also as saying that he is confident a unified Ossetia soon will be part of the Russian Federation.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to peacefully reunite Georgia. South Ossetia broke away from Georgian central government control in a war in the early 1990s.