Jun 30, 2008

Abkhazia: Six Injured in Blasts

Sample ImageGeorgia is suspected as being behind the two bombs that exploded in Abkhazia, injuring six.

Below is an article published by the International Herald Tribune :

Two bombs exploded in a resort town in […] Abkhazia province Sunday, wounding six people, regional officials said.

Abkhazian authorities blamed Georgia's government for the blasts, which came amid increasing tension over the Russian-backed […] region.

All six of the victims were wounded in a blast at a marketplace in the town of Gagry, according to Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh's press service. It said one woman was taken to a hospital in the nearby Russian city of Sochi with serious injuries. The other explosion, near a bank in Gagry, caused no casualties, the press service said.

“Behind these terrorist acts stands Georgia, which is not halting its attempts to destabilize the situation in Abkhazia,” the press service quoted Bagapsh as saying.

Bagapsh said the blasts were “aimed against Abkhazia and against the Russians who vacation on the territory of our republic.”

The lush province on the Black Sea coast has been a favorite vacation spot since the Soviet era. Police said the wounded were local residents, not Russians, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Abkhazian officials routinely accuse Georgia of responsibility for violence in Abkhazia, claiming the central government is preparing to attempt to take control of the province by force. Georgian officials deny responsibility for such incidents and say they are provocations.

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Georgian officials were unfamiliar with the details and could not immediately comment.

Abkhazia broke from Georgian government control in a war in the early 1990s and has support from Moscow, which has granted most of its residents Russian citizenship.

Persistent tension over the region has increased sharply in recent months as it has become a focus of Russia's efforts to thwart pro-Western Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's drive to bring the country into NATO.

Russia has stepped up its support for Abkhazia's […] government, beefed up a peacekeeping force and sent other troops to Abkhazia, prompting Georgian accusation that Russia is gradually annexing the province while formally refraining from recognizing its independence claim.

Recent incidents including the downing of pilotless Georgian reconnaissance planes and the detention of Russian peacekeepers by Georgian authorities have added to fears of violent conflict, though analysts say war over Abkhazia would not be in the interests of either Russia or Georgia.