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12 Russian soldiers killed in Georgia

world Updated: Aug 09, 2008 08:39 IST

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At least 12 Russian soldiers have been killed and over 150 injured in the breakaway South Ossetia region, in clashes with the Georgian military, a Russian army official told the Interfax news agency.

The soldiers were part of a Russian peacekeeping unit stationed in the Georgian province, the official said.

Russian troops were engaged in "fierce combat" with the Georgian army forces in the south of Tskhinvali, the unofficial capital of South Ossetia.

The Russian army claims contradicted Georgian declarations that, during their advance on Tkhinvali, they did not target Russian peacekeepers.

Georgian officials earlier on Friday evening said their forces had full control of Tkhinvali.

Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, Russia maintained some 2,500 peacekeepers in South Ossetia, although Georgian claimed the region

as its own territory.

Russia and Georgia sent reinforcements including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery to the region throughout on Friday.

More than 1,400 civilians had died as a result of the combat beginning in sporadic firefights over the weekend, and escalating to full-blown warfare early on Thursday.