Several Georgian border guards are missing after the air strikes on Marukhi pass, territory in Abkhazia controlled by the Georgian government on October 17, Governor of Kodiri gorge, Abkhazia, Emzar Kvitsiani stated. Six helicopters taken off in Sukhumi bombed Marukhi pass.
Kvitsiani stated that Georgian border guard informed him about the bombardment. After the air strike several border guards are missing. Border Guard Department of Georgia makes no comments.
Security Minister of Georgia Vakhtang Kutateladze was the first official who confirmed information about the casualties in Marukhi pass yesterday. He did not clarify the number and identity of casualties.
The Defense Ministry and the Intelligence Department of Georgia deny information about losses. Unpopulated territory was bombed thus information about victims is not admitted, the Defense Ministry claims. “The Ministry has sent a group of examiners to the place, which will find out all the details”, press officer of the Ministry Nino Sturua said.
It has neither been determined yet whether the six MI-24 type helicopters belong to Russia or separatist Abkhazian Republic. It is thought that the helicopters might have been of both separatist Abkhazia and Russia. Information of Russian News Agency (APN) backs the opinion. It states that Russia aids Abkhazians with not only military technique but also with qualified soldiers, officers and aviators.
As to the violation of Georgian air space by two jets on October 17 it can definitely be said that it was Russian aviation having crossed the border.
SU-25 type jets entered Georgian air space near Mestia region and headed towards Marukhi pass, Abkhazia. The jets flew towards Russia afterwards.
Despite the fact Russian militaries claim no Russian aviation took off at Abkhazian part of Georgian-Russian border on October 17.
The Defense Ministry of Georgia sent a letter of protest to Russia concerning the fact of Georgian air space violation.
By the way, after the bombardment on October 9 Minister of Defense Davit Tevzadze declared that all the jets having illegally crossed Georgian border would be downed. The fact of downing has not occurred yet somehow.
President Shevardnadze reacted harshly on both of the incidents yesterday and stated that after the “constructive” conversation with Russian President Putin on October 16 the fact was very unexpected for him.