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3 Russian troops killed in overnight clashes: defence ministry

Russia's defence ministry has said that three of its peacekeeping troops have been killed in a Georgian artillery attack in South Ossetia overnight, bringing to 15 the total number killed.

world Updated: Aug 09, 2008 10:08 IST

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday that three of its peacekeeping troops were killed in a Georgian artillery attack in South Ossetia overnight, bringing to 15 the total number killed.

"Another three died in overnight attacks. Altogether 15 peacekeepers have been killed," Russian ground forces spokesman German Zhitenyov told AFP.

Moscow on Friday said it had sent troops into South Ossetia to protect Russian peacekeepers and civilians from a Georgian offensive designed to retake the province, which broke away from Tbilisi's control in a 1992-4 war.

Twenty-two wounded peacekeepers were evacuated from the region's capital Tskhinvali overnight, bringing the total number of wounded to 70, another ground forces spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said on Saturday, in comments broadcast on Russian television.

Russian forces returned fire overnight after peacekeepers came under artillery fire from Georgian forces, Konashenkov said.