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Fighting Between Russian, Georgian Forces Intensifies


GEORGIA - OSSETIA: Russian warplanes have carried out new airstrikes against Georgian military targets, as fighting between the two sides escalates in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Much of today's fighting has been concentrated around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, which both Russian and Georgian forces claim to control. But witnesses say all that is left in the city are smoldering ruins, with bodies lying in the streets. Fighting intensified early today after Russian President Dmitri Medvedev sent additional troops to the breakaway region to protect civilians and force a cease-fire.

GEORGIA - OSSETIA SDBR - RACT: Countries and organizations from around the world are calling for an end to hostilities in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia. The United States, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are sending a delegation to Georgia to try to secure a cease-fire. Today, the International Olympic Committee expressed sadness over the fighting. An IOC spokeswoman said the violence was contrary to the Olympic ideal, and not what the world wants to see. The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet again today to discuss the crisis.

CHINA - OLYMPICS ATTACK: Beijing authorities say a Chinese man attacked two Americans today, killing one. The U.S. Olympic Committee's Darryl Seibel identified the two as relatives of an American men's indoor volleyball coach. He added he does not think they were targeted because of their connection to the U.S. team. It says a lone assailant stabbed the Americans and their Chinese guide at the Drum Tower, a popular attraction that was built in the 14th century. The man (47-year-old Tang Youngming) killed one of them and injured the other and the guide -- both women -- before committing suicide by jumping off the second story of the monument.

OLYMPIC PROTESTS: A Tibetan rights group says five of its members protested in Beijing's Tiananmen Square today and were detained by authorities. The group Free Tibet says three Americans and one German laid down and covered themselves with Tibetan flags while a Canadian told the story of China's invasion and occupation of Tibet. The group says the protest lasted ten minutes before police led away the three men and two women. In Hong Kong, security personnel removed at least one protester from an Olympic equestrian event today, after an attempt to display a Tibetan flag.

OLYMPICS WRAP: Host country China has taken two gold medals on the first full day of competition at the Beijing Olympics, one day after a worldwide television audience saw a lavish display at the opening ceremonies. In the women's 48-kilogram weightlifting competition, China's Chen Xiexia won the gold. Turkey earned the silver, while Taiwan took the bronze medal. In the men's 10-meter air pistol event, China's Pang Wei won the gold, followed by competitors from South Korea and North Korea. The Czech Republic's Katerina Emmons, who is married to U.S. shooter Matt Emmons, won the first gold of these Games, taking the women's 10-meter air rifle, while setting an Olympic record.

ZIMBABWE - SOUTH AFRICA: South African President Thabo Mbeki is due in Zimbabwe today to meet with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an effort to broker a power-sharing deal between them. Mr. Mbeki has been mediating between Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Officials in Zimbabwe said there has been significant progress in the talks, but would not give any details. The South African Foreign Ministry has declined to say how close the two sides are to resolution of Zimbabwe's political crisis.

AU - MAURITANIA: The African Union says it will suspend Mauritania's membership until democracy is restored in the West African country. AU chief Bernard Membe of Tanzania issued a statement today condemning the military coup that overthrew Mauritania's democratically elected government. Mauritanian coup leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is quoted by Reuters news agency saying the military will continue to detain deposed president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi for what he called security reasons. Coup leaders said Friday an 11-man military junta would assume presidential powers until new elections are organized.

KOREAS - SHOOTING: North Korea says it will expel what it calls "unnecessary" South Koreans from a Seoul-operated mountain resort in the North, where a South Korean tourist was shot dead last month. The North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted a military spokesman today as saying the expulsions will begin Sunday. The Stalinist state had issued a statement on August second, saying it might take the action. The statement also said Pyongyang would take strong military actions against even the slightest hostile actions in the resort, located near the border in North Korea.

BURMA - DISSIDENTS: Burma's opposition says the military government has released 43 of 48 activists detained Friday for a protest marking the 20th anniversary of the August eighth, 1988 democracy uprising. Thein Naing, a member of the National League for Democracy in the northwest state of Rakhine, told reporters today that the dissidents were detained while peacefully marching in the town of Taunggok. He said there was no word on five others, but he hoped the government would release them quickly. President George Bush met Thursday with Burmese activists and refugees in Thailand.

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