‘Several Injured’ in Abkhaz Blast – Tbilisi Says
Tbilisi accused the Abkhaz side of blowing up two buses intended for ferrying ethnic Georgians of the Gali district to Zugdidi to cast their ballot in the ongoing parliamentary elections, reported Civil Georgia.
"Several people have been injured," Eka Zguladze, the Georgian deputy interior minister, said and added: "We can say that the buses were blown up by the Abkhaz side."
The incident occurred near the village of Khurcha, at the administrative border of breakaway region.
Explosion was followed by a shootout between the Georgian police and the Abkhaz militiamen, according to the Georgian media reports.
Rustavi 2 TV aired a video footage showing armed Georgian policemen carrying a woman, who had a spot of blood on her back, as well as exploded buses in fire. Shooting was heard in the footage.
Officials in Tbilisi said that situation was under control and tensions were defusing.
Batu Kutelia, the Georgian deputy defense minister, said that the Georgian population in Gali was not allowed to cast ballots.
"Naturally, they [the Abkhaz side] are using various forms of provocations to intimidate them [locals in the Gali District]. Shootout serves just this purpose. However, the situation is under control. Our population, including from the conflict region, can freely go and cast their ballots."
Eka Tkeshelashvili, the Georgian foreign minister, said that the incident in the village of Khurcha demonstrated once again violation of rights of Georgians in the Gali district, who "are prevented to exercise their right to vote."
The Abkhaz side has yet to comment on the Georgian side's allegations.