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Abkhaz Official: EU Monitors Crossed into Abkhazia in Shooting Incident

Ruslan Kishmaria, an Abkhaz leader’s envoy in the Gali district, has claimed that EU monitors were caught in crossfire when they were accompanying “a group of Georgian saboteurs” which, as claimed by Sokhumi, infiltrated into Abkhazia on November 15 and engaged in shootout with the Abkhaz militias. EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) has strongly denied the allegation.

A Georgian policeman was killed during the shooting incident at the Abkhaz administrative border on November 15. The Georgian Interior Ministry said that the incident occurred close to the village of Pakhulani on the Georgian side of the administrative border when a group of Abkhaz militias was apparently trying to place landmines there. The Abkhaz side, however, has claimed that the clash occurred when Abkhaz border guard unit prevented “a group of Georgian saboteurs” from infiltrating deep into the Abkhaz territory.

“On Saturday, along with the Georgian armed unit, the EU monitors also crossed into the territory of Abkhazia. What right did they have to act like this?” Kishmaria told Russian news agency Interfax on November 17.

Steve Bird, EUMM spokesman, told Civil.Ge on November 17, that the Abkhaz claims were “not true.” He said that the shooting incident occurred 40 meters deep inside the Georgian side of the administrative border.

The Abkhaz side voiced allegation about the Georgian unit trying to infiltrate into Abkhazia on November 15; the Abkhaz side, however, did not mention alleged involvement of EU monitors at that time.

The Abkhaz official made the allegation about EU observers only after EUMM released a statement saying that “some bullets fell close to the mission personnel” when “heavy shooting” erupted at the Abkhaz administrative border on November 15. “It was not clear whether they were aimed at intentionally, but this action is unacceptable, the EUMM is an unarmed civilian mission,” it said.

“Naturally, Abkhaz units expelled Georgian militaries from the territory of Abkhazia,” Kishmaria also said on November 17. “Apparently, it was then, when EU monitors participating in the provocation were caught in crossfire; and now they [EU monitors] are shouting that the Abkhazians opened fire at them.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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