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29 Dec, 2006 06:00

Abkhazian troops alerted on Georgian border

Abkhazian troops alerted on Georgian border

The President of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, Sergey Bagapsh, has ordered a partial mobilisation of troops in the Gali region bordering Georgia. This follows the recent killings of high-ranking Abkhazian police officers in the area.

Abkhazia has termed the deaths as “terrorist attacks” by Georgia.

The President's office says the army's heightened alert comes as reports of possible Georgian attacks come in.

The situation here is now stable but very tense…  We know that the Georgian side is gathering forces in order to prevent 'ethnic cleansing' as they put it, in the region against Georgians. I'd like to stress – there are no ethnic tensions in the area. There is only routine security work in order to find those who are behind the murders. I'd also like to stress that when local police detained two suspects, the representatives of human rights organisations were invited to monitor the questioning,” stressed Ruslan Kishmari, spokesman for the President of Abkhazia.

Gali is an area populated mostly by ethnic Georgians. The local administration's deputy head, Georgi Lomiya, said that, although there is a possibility of fresh violence in the region, he doesn't believe the mobilisation is needed.

“We had two incidents in Gali region of Abkhazia. Two murders, and that's why the mobilisation was arranged, they say. Nothing can be said for sure about what is behind these murders.  When this kind of incident occurs in Gali, violence often erupts. This situation could lead to that. We saw 200 hundred security people who arrived into the region. They searched the houses. But I don't see any foundation for the emergency situation and for military mobilization,”  Georgi Lomiya stated.

The United Nations has called on both sides to avoid an escalation of violence in the conflict zone after recent attacks in which three Abkhazian policemen were killed.