HRW: Few civilians killed in South Ossetian war

MOSCOW (AP) -- Fewer than 100 civilians may have been killed in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia during last month's war -- a much smaller death toll than Russia and South Ossetia claimed.

The two countries originally reported that 1,500 civilians were killed in the war. But a Human Rights Watch researcher says she doesn't understand where the number came from.

She says the numbers can't be corroborated by her group's visits to local hospitals and a cemetery, or by conversations with residents in the region. She says the precise number of casualties can not yet be determined, but it's "fewer than 100."

Russia and South Ossetia have accused Georgia of masterminding a genocide of South Ossetians during the war. Human Rights Watch found no evidence of rape and torture reportedly committed by Georgian troops. But the group did find evidence that Georgian tanks deliberately fired at apartment buildings where civilians were hiding.

Russia is now investigating the civilian deaths.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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