Explosion kills two during Russia's presidential early vote

A bomb blew up in South Ossetia, which is Georgia's Russia-backed separatist region. The explosion killed two police officers and wounded at least 10 civilians Thursday, an official said.

The explosive device, hidden in a television set, was planted at a polling station that was set up for Russia's presidential vote Sunday, South Ossetian government spokeswoman Irina Gagloyeva said.

The policemen who were killed were guarding the polling station in the village of Kokhat, 35 kilometers (2 miles) east of the region's capital, Tskhinvali, police spokesman Mikhail Mindzayev said.

South Ossetia split from the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia in a war in the early 1990s and has been de facto independent ever since. Moscow formally supports Georgia's territorial integrity, but has granted Russian citizenship to most residents of South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia, and has stationed peacekeepers in both areas.

Armed skirmished are frequent between Georgian forces and South Ossetian militants.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who came to power in 2003, has vowed to bring South Ossetia and Abkhazia back under central government control.

Russian news agencies said that early voting was under way at the polling station when it was hit by the explosion. Mindzayev said he could not confirm that.

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