Georgia and South Ossetia argue over mysterious shelling

Georgia and the region of South Ossetia traded accusations Wednesday over shelling that broke out on the 15th anniversary of the province's declaration of independence.

Eight people were wounded in the attack in the provincial capital Tskhinvali on Tuesday, including a 2-year-old who sustained grave chest wounds and was sent to neighboring Russia for treatment.

South Ossetian authorities accused Georgian forces of staging the shelling. But Givi Targamadze, chairman of the Georgian parliament's defense and national security committee, called the shelling a "provocation" by the South Ossetian side, "shooting at their own population."

He said Georgia belives peaceful negotiations are possible - involving the United States - to settle the conflict.

Meanwhile Abkhazian president Sergei Bagapsh - in South Ossetia for the independence celebrations - ordered his republic's forces on a heightened state of alert, the Defense Ministry in Abkhazia said.

A duty officer at the Abkhazian Defense Ministry, Valery Kandzhariya, said that the military had put the order into effect immediately.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from central government control during wars in the 1990s. Tensions remain high, with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili vowing to resume control over the rebellious regions, the AP reports.

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