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21 May, 2008 09:48

Shooting reported on Georgian-Abkhazian border

Georgian officials claim a group of armed Abkhazians opened fire in the Zugdidi District on the border with Abkhazia, wounding two Georgians. They also say two buses have been blown up. Officials in Abkhazia confirm the reports but say Sukhumi is not conn

Tbilisi sees this as an attempt to prevent Georgian citizens living in the territory of Abkhazia from taking part in the parliamentary election. The Abkhaz side has a contradicting view on the issue.

“There was no exchange of fire. There was gunfire and grenades launched from Georgian territory. It lasted for about 15 minutes. Nobody is hindering people from taking part in the vote. Those who consider themselves Georgian citizens have long left. They are voting in Georgia. There is no election going on in Abkhazia,” Abkhazian deputy defence minister Garry Kupalba said.

“There were buses waiting for them to take them to the town of Zugdidi to vote. When the Abkhaz side saw those people boarding the buses, they opened fire on the vehicles from under-barrel grenade-launchers, wounding two civilians. The Georgian side had to return fire in order to help the civilians escape. The exchange of fire went on for approximately 30 minutes. Our wounded are being taken to hospital, where doctors will assess how serious their condition is,” Shota Utiashvili from Georgian Interior Ministry said.