Russian Serviceman, Two Georgians Killed in Gali Shooting
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Apr.'11 / 23:54

A serviceman of the Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) border guard troops and two Georgians were killed in a shootout in Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia on April 8 in what appears to be the most serious incident in last ten months.

Abkhaz and Russian officials said that the incident occurred in the village of Chuburkhinji, when Russian border guard patrol was attacked by "Georgian saboteurs".

Two attackers were killed in a response fire, FSB's spokesperson said, according to the Russian media reports.

Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia identified two Georgians killed in the skirmish as Lasha Sichinava and Malkhaz Kharchilava; the Abkhaz side said that the two men were working for the Georgian Interior Ministry's department of constitutional security. The Abkhaz side also said the both men were wanted by Sokhumi for "subversive-terrorism activities."

Tbilisi denied having links to the April 8 shooting in the Gali district and said the shootout was "settling the score" between criminals.

Georgia confirmed identity of one of the men killed in the skirmish as Lasha Sichinava, but said he had nothing to do with the Georgian Interior Ministry.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Sichinava was wanted by the Georgian police since 2002 for theft, robbery and hostage-taking and was sentenced to 19 years in prison in absentia.

"Shootouts between representatives of the Russian occupying forces, occupation regimes and criminals over the division of spheres of influence and money have become a fact of life in the occupied regions," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.

"This criminal incident indicates once again that Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, inalienable parts of Georgia presently occupied by Russia, have become black holes of criminality," it said. 

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