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7 Russian soldiers killed in South Ossetia
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A car bomb blast killed at least seven Russian peacekeepers and injured seven others near the peacekeeping force's headquarters in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali Friday afternoon, Russian media reported.

Smoke floats over the site of an explosion at the Russian peacekeepers base in Tskhinvali. [Xinhua/AFP]

"Seven servicemen have been killed and seven others wounded. All the wounded peacekeepers have been airlifted to Defense Ministry hospitals in Russia on board helicopters," Interfax quoted Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia.

A small car parked near the peacekeeping force headquarters went off at 16:45 Moscow time (1245 GMT), Itar-Tass cited a spokesperson of the South Ossetian press and information committee as saying.

The vehicle was confiscated earlier in the Georgian village of Ditsi, Itar-Tass reported.

No one has claimed as responsible for the attack but local authority accused that it was carried out by Georgian special forces.

Georgian troops launched a sudden attack against its breakaway region of South Ossetia on early Aug. 8 to reclaim control over the Caucasus region. Russia sent in troops the next day and defeated the Georgian forces.

The military conflict was stopped on Aug. 12 with a France-brokered ceasefire pact in which Moscow promised to pull out its troops. A follow-up agreement set a timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for the deployment of foreign observer missions.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke from central Georgian rule in the early 1990s following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Moscow recognized the two regions as independent states on Aug. 26.

(Xinhua News Agency October 4, 2008)

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