Investigation into Gudauta mosque attack in breakaway Abkhazia is pursuing several potential lines of inquiry, including possible involvement of foreign radical Islamist groups or foreign intelligence services, prosecutor's office of the breakaway region said on October 11.
One man was killed and two others wounded when a group of prayers was attacked by unknown gunmen outside house-turned-mosque in the center of the town of Gudauta, less than 40km northwest to Sokhumi on October 8.
The attack came less than three months after a member of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Abkhazia, Emik Chakmach-Ogly, was killed in his house in the town of Gagra. Also in July imam at the mosque in Sokhumi claimed that he survived an assassination attempt after he had found an explosive device placed in his vehicle.
Among the possible motives behind all these cases, the investigation is considering "involvement of radical representatives of Islam from foreign states, who failed to find support on the ground in spreading radical Islam in Abkhazia," Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported quoting the prosecutor's office statement.
"The investigation is also considering possibility of involvement of special services of foreign states, which aim at triggering inter-confessional conflict in Abkhazia and at destabilizing friendly relations with the Russian Federation," it said without elaborating further details.
The statement was released after the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Abkhazia issued a statement on October 11 calling on the authorities to disclose details of investigation into recent cases of attacks.
It said that the Board considered these attacks as an attempt "to intimidate" the Muslin community of Abkhazia.
"We strongly condemn any act of violence... In case of absence of adequate security guarantees, we reserve the right to protect ourselves and our families with all the available means without going beyond limits of law," Apsnipress reported quoting the statement of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Abkhazia.
In August, 2007 an imam at the Gudauta mosque, Khamzat Gitsba, was shot dead in Gudauta. Two men - Rustam and Raul Gitsba - who were wounded in October 8 shooting in Gudauta, are brothers of murdered Khamzat Gitsba, a former militant, who turned into Muslim cleric after serving four years in the Turkish jail for seizing ferry, Avrasya, in Turkey’s Black Sea port of Trabzon in 1996 in a move to express support for Chechen rebels.