Four Georgian policemen were killed and five were wounded by gunmen during the night of September 14-15 in Svanetia, a high-altitude Georgian area adjacent to Abkhazia. Two of the gunmen were also killed. The police death toll rose from one to four after the Russian "peacekeeping" commander in Abkhazia, Maj. Gen. Dolya Babenkov, declined to send a helicopter to evacuate the wounded, on the rationale that the area technically lay outside his troops’ zone of responsibility and that his helicopters have insufficient fuel anyway. According to Georgia’s Internal Affairs Ministry, the police were conducting an operation to identify and destroy crops of cannabis, a raw material for narcotics.
On September 14, a 20-man Abkhaz unit crossed the military demarcation line into Georgia’s Zugdidi district, part of Mingrelia in western Georgia. The raiders seized and took to Abkhazia several Georgian residents and vehicles. Abkhaz authorities claimed that they were retaliating against the surreptitious return to Abkhazia of some Georgian expellees. Tbilisi lodged an official protest with the Russian "peacekeeping" command and the UN observer mission, in whose zone of responsibility Zugdidi lies. The district has recently been the scene of paramilitary activity. (Georgian and Russian agencies, September 15)
Historic U.S.-Led Military Exercise Begins.