A town mayor and a Georgian villager were killed today when an explosive device was set off near Georgia's rebel region of Abkhazia, the interior ministry said. A police officer was also injured in the blast, which occurred as police and officials were investigating a grenade attack on an empty home in the border village of Muzhava, interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said. Police suspect Abkhaz militants were behind the attack, he said.
Three grenades were fired at the home early today and a remote-controlled bomb was set off a few hours later after officials arrived to investigate the attack, he said. "This was clearly aimed at the police because they knew the police would go there to investigate," Mr Utiashvili said. The head of police in Abkhazia's Gali district, Lawrence Kogoniya, denied that any attacks had taken place. "Over the last 24 hours there have been no incidents or firing in settlements on the border with Georgia," he told Russia's Interfax news agency.
Tensions remain high around Abkhazia and another rebel Georgian region, South Ossetia, following a war in August between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. Russian forces moved into Georgia on Aug 8 to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake the Moscow-backed rebel region. Russian forces later withdrew to within the two rebel regions, which Moscow recognised as independent states. * AFP