Georgia’s Internal Affairs Ministry announced yesterday that Gocha Esebua was killed that day in a gun battle with the police in a village near Zugdidi. Several of Esebua’s companions were captured. The group of accused terrorists had refused to surrender after the police, acting on a tip, had encircled their safe house. (Georgian agencies, March 31) Zugdidi district in western Georgia is the traditional stronghold of supporters of the late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
Esebua was a suspected member of the assassination squad that assaulted President Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9. He then led the Zviadist group that seized four UN military observers as hostages on February 19, and negotiated their release in return for Tbilisi’s consent to start "political negotiations" with Moscow-based Zviadists. Most of the kidnappers surrendered and were let off free as part of the deal, except Esebua and two associates who were allowed to disappear.
Shevardnadze Extends Olive Branch to Peaceful Zviadists.