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Pankisi Elders Demand Investigation After Anti-Terror Raid by Georgian Police

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, December 28
(DUISI, Georgia) --The Muslim elders of Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge have demanded that the government carry out an open and fair investigation after a major anti-terrorist operations left a 19-year-old suspect wounded and three others taken into custody for alleged ties to Akhmed Chatayev, a Chechen-born ISIS commander who blew up himself in a bloody raid on the outskirts of Tbilisi in November.

"The special operation conducted in Pankisi used excessive force. We demand an unbiased investigation and if we notice that the investigation does not go to the right direction, we will find another way,” members of Pankisi’s elder community told reporters on Wednesday.

Locals were also quick to condemn the authorities’ rush to judgment against the four, whom Interior Ministry officials identified as Zurab Gornakashvili, Ruslan Aldamov, Ramaz Margoshvili, Badur Chopanashvili and Temirlan Machalikashvili.

Machalikashvili is the 19-year-old reported to be in critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound when he attempted to throw a hand grenade at the arresting officers, the Interior Ministry reported.

The Interior Ministry claims that the group were part of a larger terror cell headed by Chatayev.

Chatayev blew himself up and two other cell members were killed after a special operations unit carried out a November 22 raid on their hideout, located on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

The group allegedly planned to carry out attacks on diplomats in Georgia and Turkey.