Anti-terrorist operation at border area with Russia
30 August, 2012
Anti-terrorist operation at border area with Russia

Hostages say they were taken by foreign armed people

Georgian Interior Ministry said troops were sent to a border area with Russia in eastern region of Kakheti “to pursue” an unspecified “armed group.” Video footage disseminated by the media showed police pickups and trucks transporting overnight on Wednesday troops through the village of Lapankuri in Telavi municipality close to the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border; helicopter was also hovering over the area.

“Near the Georgian-Russian state border, at the Dagestan section the

armed group was detected,” - the Interior Ministry said in its brief statement, adding that the Georgian troops were “pursuing” the armed group.

“The gorge is blocked by the units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In order to ensure safety of the Georgian citizens the Ministry has taken all necessary measures. Further details will be made public later,” it said.

The Interior Ministry also released video footage showing PM Vano Merabishvili meeting with Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia, Defense Minister Dimitri Shashkin and Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili in Telavi.

Early on August 28 the Georgian television stations reported that five young men, residents of Lapankuri village, were missing for several days. Later on the same day it was reported that all five men were found; they were reportedly taken to the police for questioning.

At 12:15pm on Wednesday Rustavi 2 television station reported that “the operation is related to the efforts to release hostages” and the operation was carried out against “squad of saboteurs” which had infiltrated into Georgia supposedly from Dagestan.

Rustavi 2 TV said that apart of those five men, who were missing for several days, this “squad of saboteurs” had also abducted several other people.

“Intensive shooting was ongoing throughout the night. The Interior Ministry troops have managed to release one more group of hostages and, according to our information, ongoing operation now is related to the efforts to release the third group of hostages,” Rustavi 2 said.

The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs described ongoing operation against “armed group” in Kakheti region close to the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border as “anti-terrorist.”

Interior Ministry said in a statement released shortly after 1pm local time on Wednesday: “Anti-terrorist operation against the armed group in [Lopota] gorge is ongoing. Crisis management headquarters, led by PM [Vano Merabishvili], has been established which also includes ministries of interior affairs, justice and defense. Inter-agency coordination plan has been developed which is being implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”

Similar statement was released by the Ministry of Defense.

Georgian law-enforcers offered the armed groups, which entered Georgia from Dagestan, a chance to surrender before opening fire at them, though the armed group refused to surrender.

Later, The Ministry of Internal Affairs released video testimony of the released hostages. The hostages say they were taken by armed people. The armed subversives were threatening to kill them if they tried to run away or resist.

3 SWAT team members were killed and 5 injured in the pursuit operation in the Lopota Gorge, a statement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs said. As for the subversive group, the Ministry said 11 members of the group were killed.

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