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Georgians Targeted In South Ossetia

There are reports of looting by pro-Moscow separatists in South Ossetia, the breakaway region of Georgia. Reports say Georgians are being targeted, their houses burned and entire villages chased away.

South Ossetian militants are reportedly committing similar acts against Georgians in Russian-held areas of Georgia. The Russian government says it can't control the actions of the pro-Moscow separatists.

Human Rights Watch has downplayed Russia's claims that Georgia committed human rights violations against civilians in South Ossetia during the conflict that began last week. One doctor in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, told Human Rights Watch he saw no more than 300 patients in all — most of them military personnel.

There is little evidence to support Russia's claims of ethnic cleansing by Georgia, says NPR's Gregory Feifer.

Feifer, who is in the town of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, tells Melissa Block that despite the tensions, the violence is unlikely to escalate into a Balkan-style conflict.

"I don't think it's going to reach the level of the Balkans, because I think frankly some of it is being fanned by the Russian government," he says.

He says, however, that the antagonism among the various ethnic groups is growing, and it is impossible to tell now what the long-term consequences are going to be.

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