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Guns fall silent in South Ossetia

MOSCOW (Reuter) - The guns fell silent in Georgia's rebel region of South Ossetia yesterday, a day after Russia and Georgia deployed troops in the first peace-keeping experiment in the former Soviet Union. Television showed residents in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, greeting the troops with flowers after two years of fighting, in which hundreds of people have been killed.

'The residents of Tskhinvali woke up late. For the first time in a long while, the night passed without shooting and people simply overslept,' a reporter said.

A local-council spokesman in the Georgian town of Gori, bordering South Ossetia, said: 'Surprisingly, not a single shot has been fired during the operation.' The mission's initial success fuelled hopes that it could serve as a model for ending ethnic conflicts in several flashpoints across the former Soviet Union.