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Georgia Alleges ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Conflict Zone
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Aug.'08 / 17:12

Georgia has claimed irregular militias were targeting and looting ethnic Georgians in the villages of the South Ossetian conflict zone and beyond.

And U.S. deputy assistance secretary of state, Mathew Bryza, who is in Tbilisi now, said on August 13, that “incredible reports of serious violence” were coming from the region.

“We have incredible reports that villages have been burnt and there are killings of innocent people,” Bryza said, while speaking at a joint news conference with Alexandre Lomaia, the secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council.

Bryza also added: “we have certain degree of confidence in credibility of these reports.”

President Saakashvili said on August 13 that reports of “large-scale violation of human rights” were coming from the region.

“Balkan-type ethnic cleansing and purification campaign is ongoing,” Saakashvili said.

In a separate remarks made at a joint news conference with the French President in early hours of August 13 Saakashvili said, there were “rampages and ethnic cleansing” in the Georgian villages in the vicinity of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali.

BBC World and CNN correspondents on the ground have both reported on August 13, quoting eyewitnesses from Gori, as saying that paramilitary groups, apparently South Ossetian militias, were looting and robbing local population at gunpoint in the town. They, however, said they have not seen it with their own eyes.

A reporter from The Associated Press reported on August 12 to have witnessed “more than a dozen fires in what appeared to be deserted ethnic Georgian neighborhoods and saw evidence of looting in those areas.”

Alexandre Lomaia, the secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, said that Russian forces rolled their tanks into the town of Gori, which were followed by paramilitary groups and “mercenaries from [Russia’s] North Caucasus.”

“Russia has treacherously broke its word [on ceasefire and separation of forces] agreed yesterday in presence of President Sarkozy and rolled their tanks in Gori this morning,” he said earlier on August 13.

He said that the Georgian authorities would ask the foreign diplomat in Tbilisi to set up an ambassadorial group, apparently led by the French ambassador, to inspect the real situation on the ground and help to stop targeting the ethnic Georgians in the region.

Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, said on August 13 that the parliament planned to set up a special group of lawmakers to probe into the reported cases of “ethnic cleansings.”

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