UNITED NATION: " UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to the fighting engulfing Georgia, voicing fears that the deadly violence has spread beyond the country's breakaway South Ossetia region and urging all sides to seek a peaceful solution to their conflict. As the U.N. Security Council remained deadlocked in calling for a truce, Ban issued a statement Saturday night, saying he was alarmed by "the escalation of hostilities in Georgia which have resulted in large numbers of casualties and massive destruction in South Ossetia and other regions of Georgia." Russia sent its tanks and troops to pro-Moscow South Ossetia Friday in response to pro-Western Georgia's military offensive to take back the province, which broke away in the early 1990s after a separatist war. Georgian and Russian forces exchanged artillery fire overnight, South Ossetia officials said, while Russian planes bombed the runway of a military airfield near Tbilisi international airport according to a Georgian official. Russian naval vessels also arrived at the port of Ochamchira in another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia. South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s and was governed by a secessionist government since then although its independence has not been internationally recognized. Media reports say hundreds of people, mainly civilian, have been killed in the past few days. Thousands of people have fled to North Ossetia in Russia or to other parts of Georgia to try to escape the violence. The Security Council was holding consultations on the crisis Sunday, and may later hold a formal meeting. It has met three times since the early hours of Friday morning to discuss the situation in Georgia. Ban said in his statement that he was particularly concerned that the fighting was spreading into other regions of Georgia outside South Ossetia, such as the Abkhaz zone of conflict in the northwest, where a UN observer mission (known as UNOMIG) is tasked with enforcing a 1993 ceasefire. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet told a Council meeting Saturday that Abkhaz forces have started shelling in the Upper Kodori Valley and a military build-up has begun. Mulet said UNOMIG understood a military operation in the Upper Kodori Valley by Abkhaz forces was imminent, and the mission has withdrawn its patrols from the valley because of fears for their safety. Warning that such a military operation "could be dangerously destabilizing," Ban called for maximum restraint from all sides and a guarantee of the safety and security of the unarmed military observers serving with UNOMIG. The Secretary-General urged all sides to immediately enter negotiations to try to obtain a peaceful settlement of their conflict, and he welcomed international efforts to end the crisis. He added that steps must be taken to tackle the humanitarian suffering that has emerged from the fighting. To successfully resolve the conflict, "all armed contingents which are not authorized by respective agreements on South Ossetia should leave the zone of conflict," Ban noted. "The Secretary-General urges all parties to respect the principle of the territorial integrity of States enshrined in the [UN] Charter and to refrain from actions that could undermine efforts to settle the long-standing conflicts in Georgia."