Georgian breakaway region carries out massive military maneuvers

6,000 servicemen and reservists of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia a taking part in military exercises.

The maneuvers, which wil run until Friday, include motorized and artillery forces, aviation and naval units and tanks.

"The main aim of the exercises is to test the combat readiness of the Abkhaz armed forces," the territory's Defense Minister Sultan Sosnaliyev was quoted by the AP as saying.

Abkhazia has run its own affairs since 1993, when the separatists drove out Georgian government troops. The Black Sea region is not recognized internationally, but has cultivated closer ties with Russia.

The maneuvers will conclude Friday with various weapons being tested at a firing range in the presence of Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh.

Since coming to power in 2004, pro-Western Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to reunite his fractured Caucasus Mountain country, bringing Abkhazia and another renegade province, South Ossetia, back under central control, the AP reports.

The Georgian government estimates, 300,000 people fled Abkhazia as a result of the separatist war, including 240,000 ethnic Georgians. Between 40,000 and 50,000 ethnic Georgians have returned, the government says.

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