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Two die in Abkhazian blasts

By Temuri Kiguradze
Friday, August 14
Two civilians were killed in explosions in the Abkhazian seaside town of Gagra on August 12, with at least three others reported wounded.

According to the de facto administration of Gagra the blast was caused by an explosive planted in a rubbish bin in the centre of the city. It killed a 52-year old janitor who was cleaning the street and a 25-year old technician who was passing by. The wounded are members of a Russian family in Abkhazia on summer holiday. The separatist police announced it had developed “several versions” of what might have happened but refused to explain what these were “in the interests of the investigation.”

Several hours later another blast occurred in Sokhumi, the capital of breakaway Abkhazia. No injuries were reported on that occasion.

The incidents coincided with the visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia. Speaking to journalists at a press conference in Sokhumi Putin stated that the explosions are “echoes” of the war. “We can still see those echoes even today and the incident in Gagra is a confirmation of that,” Putin said on August 12.

The Russian and Georgian media have noted that the explosion in Sokhumi on August 12 may have been intended to kill Putin, who was believed to have been having supper in a restaurant 100 metres from the site of the blast, however the administration of the separatist region has said that Putin had already left Abkhazia when the explosion took place, although some of his team were there.

Three days prior to these explosions a blast had occurred on the Abkhazian railway which destroyed part of the track in Sokhumi, though no one was reported injured. The de facto authorities of the region announced then that this bomb had been detonated for “effect” and they had already identified who was responsible, but they refused to name them.

Bomb blasts in Abkhazia during the summer tourist season are quite common. At least two were killed and 12 people, including several Russian tourists, wounded in a series of explosions in Abkhazian seaside towns last year. The de facto authorities accused Georgia of being behind the 2008 blasts, saying they were “directed towards the destabilisation of the situation in the region.” The Georgian Government said that a “struggle between criminal clans” in the separatist region was behind the explosions.