S.Ossetian police ordered to return fire if Georgians attack
South Ossetian police posts were given an order to return fire in the event of gunfire from Georgian positions, after Saturday morning's attack, the republic's interior minister said. Mikhail Mindzayev said earlier in the day that police posts in the republic had come under fire from the nearby Georgian village of Nikozi. Georgia's Interior Ministry denied the attack, saying the shots had come from drunk Russian soldiers firing into the air. "From today, all posts have been given the order, in the event of targeted fire at their posts, to open return fire. There is now no alternative," Mindzayev told RIA Novosti. "A series of acts of provocation is continuing, which the Georgian side believes will ultimately prompt the Ossetian side to such steps. And the further this goes, the harder it will be to restrain interior ministry personnel, who are in danger," he said. He also criticized the role of international observers in the region. "According to agreements, there should be no troops in this zone. Georgia has flagrantly violated all agreements, and the observers, in my opinion, are playing a one-sided role. We see no action from them at all." The European Union currently has observers stationed in areas of Georgia near the South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders, to ensure that the EU-brokered ceasefire is maintained. Russia recognized South Ossetia along with Abkhazia as independent states on August 26, two weeks after it forced out Georgian troops that had tried to retake control of South Ossetia. Tensions remain high in the region, and Georgia continues to demand that Russia withdraw its troops from the two republics. Moscow launched a five-day operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia on August 8. A number of Russian peacekeepers and a reported 1,600 South Ossetian residents lost their lives during the Georgian attack.