Georgia Detains Russian 'Militant' after Border Clash

Georgia on Saturday said it has detained a Russian militant fighter, one of the remnants of an armed gang that recently clashed with security forces near the enemy states' border leaving 14 dead.

"The Georgian interior ministry has detained one of the members of the armed group in the Lopota Gorge, Akhmet Chataev, a citizen of the Russian Federation from the North Caucasus," the ministry said in a statement.

Officials have said the clash with the alleged Muslim militants broke out last month when Special Forces confronted an armed gang which had crossed over from Russia's North Caucasus region of Dagestan, where the Kremlin has been battling an Islamic insurgency.

Three Georgian servicemen and 11 alleged militants were killed.

Some of the dead fighters were identified as Russians from Chechnya and Ingushetia in the volatile North Caucasus, but two of them were Georgian citizens, Muslims from the remote Pankisi Gorge which is home to some refugees who fled Russia during the Chechen conflict.

Russia has been trying to crush a long-running Islamist insurgency on its side of the border, which stretches across Dagestan and strife-torn Chechnya.

Moscow has often accused Tbilisi of offering a safe haven for militant fighters from the North Caucasus, a charge strongly denied by Georgia's Western-backed authorities.

Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have remained tense since they fought a brief war in 2008.


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