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SUKHUMI, June 22 (Itar-Tass) — The Abkhaz Foreign Ministry is concerned over the resumption of Georgian terrorist activity in the Gali district of Abkhazia.
“The terror act statistics in the Gali district shows that Georgia is holding a purposeful campaign of intimidation of residents of that Abkhaz district, especially those cooperating with Abkhaz authorities, and of elimination of Abkhaz law enforcers,” the ministry said on Friday.
The ministry blamed Georgia for the escalation of tensions in the Gali district and called on other participants in the Geneva Consultations on Security in the South Caucasus, especially the United States, the EU monitors and UN and OSCE representatives, “to force Georgia to stop terrorist acts in Abkhazia, which are fraught with regional destabilization and failure of the Geneva negotiations.”
The ministry pointed to the killings of officers of the Gali district police department and a colonel of the Abkhaz department of the Russian Federal Security Service’s Border Service and terrorist attacks on employees of the Abkhaz Customs Committee and heads of local administrations.
The testimony given by detained Georgian citizens Malkhaz Rurua, Shalva Khukhua and Badri Gamisonia, confirmed the intensification of operations of Georgian security services, the ministry said. It called significant the early release of terrorist David Shengelia, a former leader of the Forest Brothers group, who had served only seven of 24 years in prison.
“The analysis of this information indicates the purposeful course of sabotage and terrorism taken by the Georgian government with the assistance of its security services to destabilize the sociopolitical situation in Abkhazia, to kill officials and law enforcers and to intimidate the Mengrel population of the Gali district for hampering its integration into the Abkhaz society,” the ministry said.
It said that 143 law enforcers, more than ten security service officers and more than 100 CIS peacekeepers stationed in the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict zone had been killed in terrorist acts in the Gali district since 1993. In 1996 Georgian terrorists blasted a vehicle of the UN monitoring mission and a mission officer, a citizen of Bangladesh, died. In 2001 Georgian terrorists shot down a patrol helicopter of the UN mission, killing all passengers, including a deputy chief military observer and an international team of officers.
Abkhaz Security Council Secretary Stanislav Lakoba also reported tensions.
“Tensions have been growing. There have been terrorist attacks on police officers and village administration members. Casualties are large. They kill ethnic Georgians for cooperation with Abkhaz authorities, and the killings are demonstrative. The trails lead to the Georgian territory, from where the assailants come,” Lakoba said.
“Interestingly, many Georgian terrorists who operated in Abkhazia when [Georgian President Eduard] Shevardnadze was in office and were convicted when [Mikhail] Saakashvili was elected for president are released ahead of time. They have been trained in Anaklia by Georgian security services and Western instructors. These groups come to the Gali district to perform acts of sabotage and terrorism,” Lakoba said.