Two Georgian civilians were wounded after military uniformed personnel “from occupying regime” opened fire at the South Ossetian administrative boundary line early on May 18; four other civilians were detained, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said.
One of the wounded persons, 17-year-old resident of a village in the Sachkhere district, has serious injuries, according to the ministry.
This is the first incident since March, 2009 when fire was opened at the civilians, according to the ministry official.
According to the Georgian side the incident occurred when a group of about 15 local villagers from Sachkhere district were in the Chonto valley in an immediate vicinity to to the administrative boundary line to collect jonjoli (Staphylea colchica).
According to the initial report released by the Interior Ministry earlier on May 18, group of villagers consisted of only five men aged from 17 to 27. According to that initial official report “representatives of the occupying regime in military uniforms” tried to detain them, but opened fire after the villagers managed to escape, wounding two of them.
Meanwhile, authorities of the breakaway South Ossetia confirmed that shooting took place, but provided a different version of events saying that “South Ossetian border guards found a group of Georgian citizens illegally present on the territory of the Republic” and detained them; they said that four men, including one juvenile, were arrested, adding that the juvenile will be released soon.
“At the time of the arrest unidentified persons opened fire at the South Ossetian border guards with a goal to free detained persons. A response fire was opened, as a result attackers scattered and hid on the territory of Georgia,” security service of the breakaway region said.
Initially the Georgian Interior Ministry denied that any of the civilians were arrested, but later, on Wednesday evening, the Interior Ministry official confirmed that four Georgian were arrested. “We’ve been told that they [Tskhinvali] will release those four civilians,” Shota Utiashvili, head of the Interior Ministry’s information and analytical department, said.