The April 8 shootout in the Gali district in which three people, including a Russian serviceman, were killed, marks “start of a new phase of terrorism activities” by the Georgian special services, breakaway Abkhazia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
It said that the incident was part of Tbilisi’s attempts to “destabilize the situation and intimidate” local civilian population of the Gali district, Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported.
The breakaway region’s foreign ministry said that Abkhaz side would raise the issue at the next round of Geneva talks on June 7 and at the next meeting of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Gali on May 4. It also said that such incidents might contribute to outbreak of new wave of tensions in the region.
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. It said 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.