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Shamba accuses Enemies of Abkhazia for Mosque Attack

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, October 11
The assault on Abkhazian Muslim leadership is a “flagrant” fact, the de facto Abkhazian Prime Minister, Sergey Shamba said, commenting on the incident in the Abkhazian town of Gudauta on October 8. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at representatives of the Muslim community in front of the mosque in Gudauta on Friday, killing 34-year-old Arsaul Pilia and wounding Rustam and Raul Gitsba, Apsnypress news agency reported.

According to the de facto Abkhazian General Prosecutor’s office the gunmen arrived at the mosque in a Volkswagen Touareg and opened fire on the 8 people standing outside. One of the wounded tried to follow the car, opening fire on them; however the attackers managed to escape. Later de facto Abkhazian law enforcers found the burnt out Volkswagen in Achandara village.

This is the second case this year of an assault on members of the Abkhazian Muslim community in the de facto republic. In June an unidentified gunmen shot the chairman of the Abkhazian Muslim Community in Gagra region, Emmik Chachmat-Ogli. The leadership of the Muslim community in Georgia’s breakaway region then expressed their concern about the situation of their community in Abkhazia. In August 2007 Imam Khamzat Gitsba was shot dead in the centre of Gudauta town.

Commenting on the attack during Muslim prayers on October 8, the de facto Prime Minister ruled out the possibility of conflict between different religious groups in the de facto republic. “This and all the previous incidents that have taken place can be assessed as the attempt of some forces to shift the events taking place in North Caucasus to Abkhazia,” Shamba told Abaza TV channel “Someone is intentionally trying to induce Abkhazia into this conflict. This is being done by our enemies, who want us to confront Russia,” the de facto PM said however he did not specify which enemies he meant.

Shamba reiterated that the incident is not a result of conflict between different religious groups. “All measures will be taken to investigate the case; however it is a complicated process. Anyway we will do our best,” the de facto Prime Minister noted.

Georgian officials have said it is not clear if Shamba meant Georgia when talking of “the enemy”, however they suggest it is most likely that he meant Georgia. The head of the Cabinet of the Abkhazian legitimate government-in-exile, Besik Silagadze said it is the Kremlin’s style to blame Georgia for any incident that takes place within Georgia’s occupied territories. “It is part of the psychological and information war and has nothing to do with reality,” Silagadze told The Messenger, adding, “Georgia is interested in keeping stability in its breakaway region and will only try to achieve this through legitimate means and not through shootings and murders.”

The head of the Cabinet of the Abkhazian legitimate government-in-exile suggested that the latest incident in Gudauta could be linked with Russian special agencies. “Moscow is trying to show the Abkhazians that peace and stability cannot be achieved in Abkhazia without the Kremlin’s help and that without Russia’s assistance Abkhazia might end up in chaos like Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan,” Silagadze noted, adding that he does not exclude the possibility that the case might have happened due to religious confrontations incited by Russian special agencies.