Georgian troops remain in an area close to the Russian border in the Kakheti region where, according to the officials, three servicemen and 11 suspected militants died in an armed clash on August 29.
The last time when the Interior Ministry provided update about the ongoing operation was late afternoon on Wednesday when it said that six remaining gunmen were “surrounded” by the Georgian troops.
Secretary of Georgian National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, said late on Wednesday that the remaining group of gunmen was “localized”.
Police pickups and trucks continued moving in and out of the area throughout the night.
The closest village to the area where the fighting broke out on Wednesday is Lapankuri in Telavi municipality about twenty kilometers from the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border. Journalists from various media sources are based in the village as access further into the gorge remains restricted by the police.
The Georgian authorities do not say directly that the group came into Georgia from Russia, but senior officials, including President Saakashvili, have indicated that the gunmen infiltrated from the North Caucasus, presumably from Dagestan.
A statement on vdagestan.info, website of the Islamist insurgency's Dagestan section, said that “the leadership of mujahideens of the Vilayat Dagestan confirms” that its militants were involved in armed clashes against the Georgian troops. It said that the militants were not intending to “carry out any operation on the Georgian territory”.
It also said that militants did not take anyone in hostage. “That is slander and a lie of the Georgian authorities,” reads the statement.
It also said that those 11 militants who have died in the clash were victims of the Georgian authorities’ “treacherous” plot and called “to immediately cease military actions against mojahedins”.