Blast wounds five police in rebel Georgian region: official

22nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A landmine explosion wounded five policemen as they patrolled a tense border district in the Moscow-backed Georgian rebel region of Abkhazia on Thursday, officials said.

The blast in Gali district, a tense area near the de-facto border separating Abkhazia from Georgian-controlled territory, went off early Thursday morning wounding five of the six policemen on a routine patrol, officials said.

"There was a blast," Ruslan Kishmaria, the Abkhazian presidential envoy in the Gali district told AFP. "A carload of policemen blew up on a landmine."

Head of the Gali district police, Vadim Gvindzhia, speaking to AFP, said he did not rule out that a "Georgian subversive group" might be behind the blast between the villages of Nabakevi and Tagiloni.

The five policemen received medical help and were released, he added.

Georgia's interior ministry denied that Georgia might be behind the incident.

"Such absurdity and nonsense are not worth of a comment," Georgia's interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told AFP.

The Gali district is mainly inhabited by ethnic Georgians who returned after the early 1990s war in which Abkhazia broke free of Tbilisi's control.

Georgians in Gali have an uneasy relationship with the Abkhaz separatist authorities who rule the district, and there have been clashes along the de facto Georgian-Abkhaz border.

Abkhazia and another rebel region, South Ossetia, broke away from Tbilisi's control during wars in the early 1990s after Georgia gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 2008 Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over South Ossetia, which ended with Moscow recognising the two rebel regions as independent states.

© 2010 AFP

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