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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Peacekeepers Shoot Georgian Dead

TBILISI, Georgia -- Russian troops shot to death a Georgian militant just a week after the peacekeepers were sent to the breakaway province of Abkhazia, officials said Tuesday. The shooting occurred Monday night when a truck carrying five armed men refused to stop as required at a Russian checkpoint in the Zugdidi region of western Georgia on the border with Abkhazia, said Russian army Colonel Gennady Dolgachev. Russian troops opened fire, shooting one man, and detained four others who appeared to be soldiers of a Georgian paramilitary unit, the spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from the Georgian authorities. Russian troops started a peacekeeping mission in Abkhazia last week in a bid to end the two-year war which has left more than 3,000 people dead and turned about 350,000 into refugees. The Commonwealth of Independent States has endorsed the mission, but only Russia has provided troops. The Abkhazians drove Georgian troops out of the province last fall, and the two sides finally signed a Russian-brokered truce in May. Russia has deployed 3,000 troops along the Inguri River, which separates Abkhazia from the rest of Georgia. Georgian nationalists have strongly protested the peacekeeping mission, seeing it as a pretext to increase Russia's military presence in the region. Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, however, supports it. Since the deployment started, there have been only occasional skirmishes between Georgian and Abkhazian troops, who blamed each other for violating the cease-fire.