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More Flee from Georgian Villages North of Gori

Several hundred Georgians were forced to flee from Russian-controlled villages north of the town of Gori reportedly because of renewed harassment and intimidation by South Ossetian militias.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said that 365 Georgian villagers had arrived in Gori by the end of August 26. Some of them had wanted to return from Tbilisi to their villages, but were unable to do so because of security concerns, according to UNHCR.

“The IDPs who have fled the Georgian villages in the buffer zone next to the South Ossetian border told UNHCR staff that they have made the decision to leave due to massive harassment by Ossetian militias in the past two days. They claimed that the number of Ossetian militia in the Georgian villages and the brutality of their attacks have increased considerably since Sunday, 24 August,” the UN refugee agency said in its emergency operation update under the headline “New humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Gori.”

Meanwhile, a Reuters correspondent reported from the village of Mosabruni close to the town of Akhalgori that heavily-armed Georgian special police had to withdraw from the village after South Ossetian militiamen supported by Russian soldiers and Mi-24 helicopter gunships rolled into the village. No fighting was reported.

Akhalgori is a small town of mixed Georgian-Ossetian population on the eastern edge of the South Ossetian administrative border. The town administratively is part of the former South Ossetian Autonomous District, but it only came under secessionist control as a result of the recent conflict.


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