Georgia police casualties reported as head of EU observers arrives

Georgia Materials 22 September 2008 17:59 (UTC +04:00)

Two policemen were wounded by a landmine near the Georgian rebel region of Abkhazia on Monday, the third such incident along the Georgia border with the breakaway region this month, reported dpa according to the country's Interior Ministry.

The incident, which occurred at a post near the Georgian village of Khurcha, comes as the head of the European Union observer mission to Georgia, Hansjoerg Haber, arrived in Tbilisi over the weekend.

The expected 200-strong missions of EU observers are due to take over the security zones in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of an agreement with Russia to pull its troops back by October 1.

The increasing reports from the Georgian side of violence highlight the danger to EU monitors, who are to set up a 7-kilometre buffer zone in Georgia in front of the boundaries of the two rebel provinces and the 7,600 Russian troops based there.

On Sunday at the same post where Monday's incident occurred, one policeman was shot dead and two injured by suspected separatist fighters, the Interior Ministry said.

Another Georgian police officer was killed in a shooting incident earlier this month in the Russian-patrolled buffer zone near South Ossetia, where Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in mid-August.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the EU's rotating presidency, finalizing a ceasefire accord between Moscow and Tbilisi this month after Russian forces dug into positions deep inside Georgia following their rout of Georgian troops attempting to retake South Ossetia.