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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Georgia troops fail to find militants
Georgian troops inspect a bombed-out military vehicle that was allegedly hit during the Russian raid. Moscow denies the claim.
Georgia and Russia have stepped up their war of words
Georgian troops have swept through the Pankisi Gorge - a lawless region which Russia says is home to Chechen rebels - but have found no militants.


If some of (the Chechens) have left the gorge and headed elsewhere, I wouldn't be looking for their address

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
The raid follows Russian claims that Chechen rebels - linked to al-Qaeda - are using the gorge as a safe haven and training ground.

Russia has also called for its own troops to be allowed to flush the rebels out.

But Georgia is in no mood to allow Russians into the Pankisi.

Map of Georgia showing Pankisi gorge
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze was sarcastic after the action by 1,000 of his troops in the gorge.

He said that the militants may have moved to other addresses, adding that Georgia had not discussed it with them.

He accuses Russia of causing the problem in the first place, by resuming a military campaign in Chechnya in 1999 - forcing Chechens into Georgia.

And last week Georgia claimed that Russian planes had launched bombing raids in the gorge - killing at least one civilian and injuring five others.

Bombing denial

Mr Shevardnadze says he has proof of the Russian attack. The Americans have also waded in, condemning the attack and saying they have evidence from observers of the Operation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
Shevardnadze: US support
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov insisted that his forces had nothing to do with the attacks.

He also hinted that Georgia wanted a scapegoat after a botched raid.

The Georgian parliament's been debating the situation around the Pankisi Gorge.

Some MPs are in favour of recalling Georgia's ambassador to Moscow and are even questioning Georgia's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The majority though are in favour of a cautious approach to the problem.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Chazan
"Georgia's called for Russia to stop bombing its territory"
The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov
"Some planes which they believe were Russian planes did actually bomb Georgia on Friday"

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25 Aug 02 | Europe
25 Aug 02 | Europe
05 Aug 02 | Europe
04 Aug 02 | Europe
22 May 02 | Country profiles
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