BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 2 September, 2002, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Georgia says gorge 'under control'
Georgian Interior Ministry troops at a checkpoint in the Pankisi Gorge
Georgian troops have been searching the gorge
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has said he is confident that his security forces now fully control the remote Pankisi Gorge.


At present the situation in Pankisi Gorge is under full control

Eduard Shevardnadze
More than 1,000 Georgian troops were recently deployed to the gorge near the border with Russia's war-torn Chechnya region to flush out what Georgia describes as criminal elements.

Russia believes the area is used as a hideout by Chechen rebels and the United States suspects Islamic militants of also using it as a base.

Pankisi Gorge
Home to the Kists, a Muslim community with ethnic links to the Chechens
Local non-Muslims say they have been forced to move out by Chechen refugees
Chechen rebels have long used the gorge as a base
The US believes that al-Qaeda militants may also be active there

A spokesman for the Georgian Security Ministry, Nika Laliashvili, said the fight against militants there would be "relentless and uncompromising" and would shortly feature "specific operations".

Georgian troops have detained seven people so far in the week-old operation, including a man described as an Arab carrying a French passport and six criminals.

Mr Shevardnadze has said several dozen Chechen guerrillas may still be in the gorge, including ethnic Arabs.

Russian pressure

Georgia has rejected Russia's calls for permission to send its own forces into the Pankisi Gorge to pursue Chechen militants seeking refuge there.

Map of Georgia showing Pankisi gorge

"Russia won't get our agreement for an operation by Russian security services in the Pankisi Gorge," President Shevardnadze said at the weekend.

Moscow has been accused of mounting air strikes on the gorge, the latest of which, this month, left one civilian dead and seven wounded.

Georgia began a military sweep of the gorge shortly afterwards, but reported no resistance.

Suspect

Washington has provided Georgia with military instructors to help combat the perceived threat from radical Islamic militants there.

An Arab man arrested during the security operation on suspicion of militant links has now been identified as Halid Oldali.

The Georgian Security Ministry said that Mr Oldali, who was carrying a French passport believed to be fake and wearing a military uniform under his outer clothes, came to Georgia in 1999 and fought on the rebel side in Chechnya.

A criminal investigation has now been opened against him for alleged ties with a foreign terrorist organisation, the ministry said.

See also:

25 Aug 02 | Europe
05 Aug 02 | Europe
22 May 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes