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Russia, Georgia Trade Accusations Over Breakaway Georgian Territories

Russia is accusing Georgian troops of using disproportionate force in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, and is warning its neighbor not to further aggravate tensions.

Georgian authorities Monday countered the Russian accusation with charges that Russian-backed separatists are creating an "illusion of war" in South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia. Georgia also accuses the Russians of attempting to annex the areas.

The latest charges and counter-charges follow a weekend of deadly fighting between separatists and Georgian government forces in South Ossetia. At least six people were killed and 15 wounded.

Hundreds of women and children were reported fleeing South Ossetia to the safety of Russian territory.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried discussed the situation by telephone Sunday. The Foreign Ministry described South Ossetia Sunday as close to war.

A Russian Ministry statement accused Georgia of fanning tensions with military maneuvers in the area.

The statement called on both separatists and the government to show "maximum restraint."

Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, sparking fighting and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers to the regions.

Georgia accuses the peacekeepers of backing the separatists and has vowed to bring the territories back under central government control.

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