Abkhazia asks Georgian troops to leave

August 11th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Tbilisi (Georgia), Aug 11 (DPA) The conflict between Georgia and Russia looked poised for further escalation Monday as Abkhazia, the second separatist region of the Caucasus state, ordered all Georgian soldiers and civilians to leave the upper Kodori Valley area or face an attack. Georgian positions in the upper valley bordering Russia were surrounded by Abkhazian forces, the leadership of the Russian-backed breakaway republic on the Black Sea said in the regional capital Suchumi, according to the Russian Interfax agency.

Indicating a possible further escalation of the conflict with Georgia, Moscow has moved 9,000 soldiers and 350 military vehicles into Abkhazia in the past few days. The move was intended to support Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, Moscow said.

The UN observer mission UNOMIG withdrew its military observers stationed in the area over the weekend.

In the southern Abkhazian border with Georgia, the situation was growing more tense as well, with Tbilisi reporting Russian bomb attacks against Georgian military installations in the region of Zugdidi.

The central Georgian town had also come under new Russian attacks, Tbilisi said.

While Abkhazia considers the sparsely populated Kodori Valley part of its territory, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2006 set up a Georgian authority in the upper Kodori Valley.

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