Russia using cluster bombs in Georgia, Human Rights Watch alleges

Other News Materials 15 August 2008 05:20 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Russia has used cluster bombs during its incursion this week into Georgian territory, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged.

In a statement issued early Friday from Tbilisi, HRW condemned the practise, which it claimed to have documented from airstrikes Tuesday in two Georgian cities.

"Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw," said Marc Garlasco, HRW senior military analyst.

" Russia should never have fired cluster munitions against a town in Georgia, and now it should help in the clean-up to avoid any more deaths."

The New York-based group said that RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 submunitions, were dropped from Russian aircraft.

HRW researchers inside the Georgian war zone interviewed wounded survivors and medical and military personnel, and obtained a video of one strike and photos of craters and bomb remnants, all confirming its conclusions.

A Tbilisi doctor gave the group a piece of apparent bomblet shrapnel removed from the skull of one patient.

The alleged cluster-bomb strikes took place Tuesday in Ruisi, a town in Georgia's Kareli district, and in Gori, a Georgian city near the border with the breakaway region of South Ossetia, where the conflict with Russia broke out on August 7.

In all, at least 11 civilians were killed and dozens wounded in the two attacks. The Gori strike killed Dutch journalist Stan Storimans, seriously wounded Israeli journalist Zadok Yehezkeli and damaged an armoured car used by the Reuters news agency.

At a conference in May, 107 countries agreed to ban cluster munitions. Neither Russia nor Georgia participated in the talks.