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UK warns against travel to Georgia

LONDON, August 9 – The British government warned Saturday against all unnecessary travel to Georgia after the ex-Soviet country declared a state of war with Russia.

Changing its advice amid escalating clashes over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Foreign Office urged anyone already there against travelling outside the capital, and suggested leaving altogether if they felt unsafe.

"We now advise against all non-essential travel to Georgia," it said, notably warning against travel to South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the upper Kodori Valley, also known as upper Abkhazia).

It noted "serious fighting" in South Ossetia, as well as aerial bombardments of military installations outside the conflict zone, in the Black Sea port of Poti and the military bases at Vaziani, Senaki and Marneuli.

"Our advice is not to travel outside Tbilisi. If you are concerned about your safety, you should consider whether there is a need for you to remain in the country at this stage," it said.

Meanwhile, Russia has started bombarding a Georgian-controlled section of Abkhazia, Georgia’s public television reported on Saturday.

"Russian aviation is currently bombing the villages of Sakeni and Lower Kvapchara in Upper Abkhazia," the television channel said, referring to areas on the edge of Abkhazia.

Abkhazia is one of two Russian-backed separatist regions of Georgia along with South Ossetia, where Russian and Georgian forces are battling for control of the capital Tskhinvali.

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In the United States, President George W. Bush has called for an "immediate" end to South Ossetia violence and Russian bombardment

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