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MIA: Policeman Killed in Shooting on Abkhaz Border
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Sep.'08 / 10:51

A Georgian policeman was killed and three others injured after their post came under fire in the village of Khurcha on the Abkhaz administrative border on September 21, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said.

The incident occurred at about 7pm local time when shots were fired “from the direction of the [nearby] Russian army checkpoint,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The shots came from Abkhaz-controlled territory, Georgian officials said. They also said that the Georgian police returned fire, with the exchange lasting for several minutes.

Abkhaz officials have confirmed that the incident took place, but have denied their forces were involved.

“There is an Abkhaz border guard post and a Russian peacekeeper post on the edge of the village. It was possible to hear the sound of shooting coming from inside the village [of Khurcha], but it is hard to say what happened there,” Ruslan Kishmaria, the Abkhaz leader’s envoy in the Gali district, told Interfax news agency.

Two Georgian policemen were killed, according to the Georgian Interior Ministry, in similar incidents in less than two weeks. One was shot dead in Karaleti, a village in which Russian troops maintain a presence, north of the town of Gori, close to breakaway South Ossetia, on September 10 and another one was killed in the village of Ganmukhuri on the Abkhaz administrative border on September 13.

Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said on September 13 that a ministry special purpose unit would be deployed in the village of Ganmukhuri.

“We have decided that our special purpose units will return to their previous positions [held on the Abkhaz administrative border before the launch of hostilities in August] to protect this zone,” Merabishvili told journalists. “So far only policemen have been controlling movements there. We will do our best to prevent further casualties and to ensure the safety of those people who returned to their homes in Ganmukhuri and in other nearby villages.”

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