(TBILISI) Georgia’s State Security Service said one serviceman and three suspects were killed in a ferocious 20-hour gun battle during an anti-terrorist operation on the outskirts of Tbilisi on November 22.
Tbilisi Anti-Terror Operation Kills 4, Wounds 4 Others
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 24
The casualty list also included two special forces servicemen and two policemen who were wounded in the fight.
Security officials claim the armed group was made up of foreign nations who were members of a terror cell operating out of an apartment in the Georgian capital’s Isani district.
Vakhtang Gomelauri, a high ranking official with the security services, said the operation took several hours because law enforcement officials wanted to ensure the safety of civilians and bystanders.
Georgia’s Deputy Health Minister Zaza Sopromadze said three out of the four wounded officers had received medical treatment for non-life threatening injuries. The fourth remains in hospital to undergo further treatment.
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili visited the wounded officers and praised their bravery saying, “They did what they needed to do.”
The security services said had been under surveillance for several weeks, but had not been fully identified before Wednesday’s operation.
The country’s opposition parties sharply criticized the ruling Georgian Dream government for failing to inform the public about the operation or about the threat of terror groups in Tbilisi and also claimed that the operation lasted too long.
“To apprehend people who are trapped in one flat shouldn’t take more than two hours,” Nika Rurua from the United National Movement said.
Military expert Amiran Salukvadze said that the operation exposed severe deficiencies in the special operations units’ operation capabilities. Salukvadze said they require significantly more resources and training, before speculating that the terror group were Chechens from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge who were acting in Russia’s interests to sow chaos and dissent in the country.
Fellow analyst Zaza Piralishvili shared the view about Moscow’s alleged involvement.
The operation began at about 8pm on November 21 in Isani, a suburban community on the outskirts of Tbilisi.
The suspects had barricaded themselves in a flat, armed with explosives and Kalashnikovs.
Several flats were damaged during the operation. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said Tbilisi City Hall will provide accommodation for those whose homes were destroyed.