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EUMM vehicle explodes in Western Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 22
One man died and another was seriously injured when an EU monitoring mission vehicle exploded on an anti-tank mine close to the administrative border of breakaway Abkhazia on June 21.

Georgian driver Avtandil Akhaladze died from his injures in Zugdidi hospital. According to the Georgian Interior Ministry he was driving a MediClub ambulance transporting a medical team. The blast happened at around 11.00am. near Eristskali village, close to the Abkhazian administrative boundary line. The EUMM convoy consisted of two cars, the second being only slightly damaged by the blast.

The Head of the EUMM in Georgia, Ambassador Hansjoerg Haber, commented on the blast on the same day, saying, “I would like to extend my sympathy to the family and friends of the MediClub driver who died today [on June 21]. The EUMM has an agreed mandate to carry out unhindered patrols in the areas adjacent to the administrative boundary line. We are still looking into the details of this incident, but I would like to make clear that any unprovoked attacks on our unarmed monitors and their patrols, going about their legitimate duties, are completely unacceptable,” stated Haber. He added that the EU monitoring mission would “contact the authorities on both sides of the administrative boundary line to investigate the details of this incident and ensure that nothing like this happens again.”

The EUMM monitoring mission has been working in Georgia since October 2008, its establishment being one of the terms of the EU-mediated ceasefire agreement signed by the parties to the August war. Avtandil Akhaladze is the first mission member to lose his life.