Tbilisi Says Abkhaz militias carry out Punitive Operation' in Gali

Georgia Materials 29 December 2006 12:07 (UTC +04:00)

(Civil) - An anti-terrorist unit of breakaway Abkhazia has been deployed in the Georgian-populated Gali district to carry out a punitive operation against the local population, a statement issued by the Office of Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues on December 28 said.

According to the Georgian side, the deployment of additional Abkhaz militiamen in Gali is in retaliation to recent attacks that resulted in the deaths of three Abkhaz militiamen one of whom was influential local warlord Otar Turnanba. Sokhumi has blamed Tbilisi for masterminding these attacks, while the Georgian Interior Ministry says it had nothing to do with them, reports Trend.

On December 28 Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Merab Antadze called on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia and the OSCE to respond to the developments in Gali.

The State Minister also accused Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in the Abkhaz conflict zone of failing to provide security to the local population in the Gali district.

The Abkhaz side said that special measures, including checking the IDs and papers of the local population, are being carried out by the Abkhaz law enforcers in the Gali district.

Those without IDs are arrested and brought to the local police station, where the process of identifying them is being carried out in the presence of a representative from the Sokhumi-based UN human rights office. After identification the person is released, if, of course, there is no confirmation that a person is linked to criminal gangs or saboteur squads, Apsnipress news agency quoted Ruslan Kishmaria, the Abkhaz leader's envoy in the Gali district.

There is no punitive operation in the district, he added.