Three Georgian troops died and five were wounded in a clash with “a squad of saboteurs” during an operation in the Kakheti region, close to the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border, the Georgian Interior Ministry said in a statement released shortly before 4pm local time on Wednesday.
Two of the killed Georgian troops were from the Interior Ministry’s special purpose unit and one was an army corporal, who served as a doctor with the Defense Ministry’s special operations forces
“11 members of the armed group have been liquidated,” the Interior Ministry said.
“Currently six saboteurs are surrounded. Measures are ongoing aimed at their detention,” it said.
Earlier a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, Salome Makharadze, told Rustavi 2 TV that “anti-terrorist operation with a purpose of neutralizing armed group is ongoing.”
“In last three days the Interior Ministry has been carrying out operation to free several groups of hostages,” she said.
Deputy Interior Minister, Shota Khizanishvili, said that all the hostages “are freed and are unharmed.”
Early on August 28 the Georgian television stations reported that five young men, local residents of the village of Lapankuri, were missing for several days. Later on the same day it was reported that all five men were found and taken to police for questioning; no other details were known at the time.
Lapankuri village is about twenty kilometers from the Dagestan section of the Georgian-Russian border.
Late on August 28 first reports emerged about movement of Georgian troops in direction towards the Dagestan section of Georgian-Russian border via Lapankuri village.
Police pickups and trucks were seen transporting troops overnight on Wednesday via the village; helicopters were hovering over the area.
Late on August 28 the Interior Ministry released a brief statement saying that “an armed group was detected” at the border with Dagestan.
On Wednesday morning the Interior Ministry said that its troops “blocked” the gorge and were “pursuing the armed group.”
Shortly after 1pm local time on Wednesday the Interior Ministry called the operation “anti-terrorist”.
Imedi TV and Rustavi 2 TV, two television channels close to the government, reported on August 29, that “the squad of saboteurs” infiltrated into Georgia apparently from Dagestan and apart of those five men from Lapankuri village also abducted several other people; no exact information was available total of how many people were held by the armed group.