Sunday, August 10, 2008

Georgia announces ceasefire

Russia Today reports:

The Russian embassy in Tbilisi has reportedly received a note from the Georgian president saying his country is stopping military action in South Ossetia. Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that Mikhail Saakashvili ordered his army to stop firing on Sunday. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry says Georgia has yet to end hostilities.

Russia's Defence Ministry has confirmed that Georgian troops have withdrawn from South Ossetia after failing to retake the breakaway republic through military force. Spokesman Anatoly Nogovitsyn said peacekeeping soldiers are once again in control of most of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

The announcement goes some way towards clarifying conflicting messages coming out of Tbilisi earlier on Sunday.

Initially Reuters news agency quoted Georgia’s Internal Affairs Ministry spokesman, Shota Utiashvili, as saying: ‘Georgian troops have fully left South Ossetia.’

But the Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, Aleksandr Lomaya, claimed Georgian troops had merely relocated to new positions within South Ossetia.

“Following the airstrikes, Tskhuinvali is virtually obliterated. In these conditions our forces have relocated and assumed new positions,” Lomaya said.

Russia's Defence ministry spokespokesman has denied Georgian reports that Russian air planes attacked civilian targets.

More than 150 people remain trapped under the rubble of the city hospital. It was destroyed on the first day of the hostilities. That's according to local officials.

According to reports from Tbilisi, 45 Georgian soldiers and 40 civilians were killed in two days of violence in South Ossetia. Those figures contrast wildly with those released by South Ossetia and Russia, who say an estimated 2,000 people have been killed.

Georgia's media is also reporting strikes by Russian war planes outside the conflict zone.

Media reports say an apartment block in the Georgian town of Gori was hit by a Russian bomb.

Russia's Defence Ministry says its planes have not bombed any civilian targets.

A Russian journalist based in Georgia reported on his Internet blog that an ammunition warehouse in Gori was targeted and destroyed - which caused civilian casualties.

Also Russian planes are reported to have bombed Georgian military bases and airfields across the country as well as the seaport of Poti.