New Year’s first shooting
By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, January 5A Georgian police post in the village of Ganmukhuri, at the administrative border with breakaway Abkhazia, has come under fire, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said on January 4.
According to the Ministry fire was opened from the Abkhazian side in the early morning. Despite a report that the attackers used mortars and automatic rifles no one was injured in this incident. “Fire was opened from territory controlled by Russian occupiers – from the village of Pichori, in the Gali district,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The representatives of the Abkhazian de facto authorities deny any participation in a shooting incident. “We have observed that shootings took place in Ganmukhuri. It appears to us that there was a fight between Georgian law enforcers and criminals or between criminals themselves,” stated Raul Kishmaria, the representative of the Abkhazian separatist leader in Gali district.
Georgian media reports that the shooting in Ganmukhuri was opened by Russian troops who are located in the area. Georgian news agency Interpressnews quotes a resident of Gali district as saying “Only Russian soldiers are in Pichori now, armed with mortars and grenade launchers. It appears that they started shooting because only youngsters are serving in Abkhazian units and these youngsters don’t dare to conduct such a provocation. There was fire from this [the Abkhazian] side only, there were no reply.”
The Abkhazian side is accusing Tbilisi of using the Ganmukhuri incident to justify a concentration of military force at the administrative border. “According to our information Georgia has moved additional military units and armed vehicles to the border. The shooting may have been staged by the Georgian side to justify these maneuvers,” stated Zakan Nanba, the so-called Deputy Defence Minister of Abkhazia.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a statement protesting against the Ganmukhuri shooting. The Foreign Ministry accuses Russia of “impertinent assaults” aimed at “escalating tensions in the region.” “This is a continued chain of criminal acts, which has already resulted in 10 deaths and dozens of wounded among Georgian law enforcers and numbers of injured civilians,” says Tbilisi, adding that “Georgia expresses its strong protest regarding this, yet another, provocation against the Georgian side, and expresses its hope that joint efforts with the international community will make it possible to implement firm security guarantees and to prevent uncontrolled and dangerous developments.”
Shooting in Ganmukhuri didn’t occur for the first time on Sunday. In November 2008 the Georgian Interior Ministry reported an intense exchange of fire between Georgian police and so called Abkhazian militia in the village. Then the Ministry stated that a shootout had begun when two Russian armoured vehicles crossed to the Georgian side of the Abkhaz administrative border in the vicinity of Ganmukhuri on November 20. The armoured vehicles were accompanied by so called Abkhaz militia, it said.
”They opened fire from machine guns and grenade launchers as they approached the Georgian police post in the village of Ganmukhuri. The shooting lasted for about 15 minutes. No one was injured,” the Georgian Interior Ministry stated on November 20.