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Russians Dismantle Checkpoint in Georgia


European Union monitors in Georgia say they have observed the dismantling of a Russian checkpoint near the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Russia has said it will withdraw troops from two security zones inside undisputed Georgian territory by October 10, under a cease-fire agreement brokered by France.

Last Wednesday, Russian troops allowed EU monitors to enter a buffer zone around South Ossetia, despite earlier saying the monitors would be prevented from visiting the area.

More than 200 EU peace monitors began their mission Wednesday, as called for in the French-brokered cease-fire.

Tuesday, Russia said it would bar the monitors from entering the Russian-declared buffer zones around South Ossetia and Abkhazia - another breakaway region in Georgia.

The cease-fire pact requires Russian forces to be completely out of the buffer zones by October 10th. EU officials say the peace monitors should have access to all of Georgia.

Russian tanks and thousands of soldiers poured into Georgia in August after Georgia tried to retake control of South Ossetia by force.

Russia has since recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, angering the United States and European Union.

Meanwhile, the human rights group Amnesty International says unexploded shells, looting, and ethnically-motivated violence are preventing ethnic Georgians from returning to their homes in South Ossetia.

Amnesty International has called on Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian authorities to guarantee the safety of displaced people trying to return home. It also asks all sides to disclose information about munitions used in the fighting so unexploded bombs can be cleared.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters.


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