Abkhazia: Kodor Gorge Tensions On

Violence persists in the Kodor gorge in Abkhazia, self-proclaimed republic in Georgia. CIS peacekeepers stopped four cars with armed Georgian passengers at an Inguri riverside strongpoint today. As peacekeeping staff officers and the Abkhaz top assume, the cars had been en route to Georgievskoye, a highland village in Abkhazia's Gulripsha district, for helping the armed formations which tried to seize the village. Two men--a Georgian and a Chechen--were captured in an armed clash in Gulripsha, and taken to the Sukhumi detention prison. Both are presumed to be in the rebel ranks. Contradictory evidence is coming about the rebel force, evaluations ranging from 50 men to 500. Armed clashes are going on into this night, report Akbhaz officers. Vladimir Mikanba, Abkhazia's Defence Minister, describes Kodor gorge developments as critical. The republican top in mustering forces to stop violence, he said to RIA Novosti. Georgi Baramidze, in charge of Georgia's parliamentary committee for defence and security, addressed newsmen to confirm fighting near Georgievskoye in the Kodor gorge. He qualified village seizure as provocation and ruled out the Georgian army or secret services masterminding. The MP flatly denied conjectures of the Georgian top out to suppress Abkhaz separatism by force of arms. Dieter Boden, the UN Secretary-General's envoy to Georgia, currently in Tbilisi, is reporting grave concern with the developments. Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze is currently on a five-day visit to the USA. He has been notified about the crisis and does not intend to interrupt the visit, Irakli Menagarishvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in a televised address to the nation. Mr. Menagarishvili is accompanying the president on the visit.

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