Medvedev orders probe into terror blast in S Ossetia

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Moscow, Oct 5 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has odered the Defence Ministry, law enforcement agencies and the Foreign Ministry to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding a terrorist blast in S Ossetia on Friday in which seven Russian peacekeepers were killed, the Kremlin press service reported.

Medvedev also instructed the Defence Ministry to maintain contacts with their colleagues in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in order to take necessary steps towards preventing criminal actions against Russian peacekeepers and the peaceful population of the republic.

The explosion occurred outside the headquarters of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia.

A car bomb went off in a vehicle that had been moved to Tskhinvali from a village in the buffer zone outside South Ossetia controlled by Russian forces.

Seven Russian peacekeepers, including a senior member of the peacekeeping force, Col. Ivan Petrik, were killed in the explosion and eight others were seriously injured.

Meanwhile, the Investigation Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said Georgian special forces are suspected of plotting the blast.

''The team of investigators conducting a preliminary probe, has every reason to suspect that the Tskhinvali explosion was triggered by Georgian special forces to destabilise the situation in the independent republic,'' spokesman for the Investigation Committee Vladimir Markin told RIA Novosti news agency.

Georgia yesterday denied any involvement in the incident, accusing Russia of seeking to delay its pullout from the buffer zone near South Ossetia.

''It is a provocation arranged by Russian special forces, which aims to slow down the withdrawal of the Russian armies of occupation from the territory adjoining the conflict zone,'' the Georgian Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it considered the blast ''a carefully planned terrorist act aimed at preventing the implementation of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan,'' under which Russian forces are to withdraw from buffer zones by October 10.


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