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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Detained for Attempt on Shevardnadze's Life

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian security forces have detained several people suspected of taking part in the failed attempt to assassinate President Eduard Shevardnadze, Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze said.

"We can now definitely say that the terrorist act against the Georgian president had been investigated," Targamadze said Sunday. "We know the persons who had planned this crime."

"We have detained several suspects, including allies of the former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia," he added.

Shevardnadze on Monday assured his compatriots and foreign investors that Georgia remains stable despite last week's attempt on his life, the second in three years.

"We will further speed up reforms and cooperate even more actively with all constructive forces both inside and outside the country," Shevardnadze said in his weekly radio address. "I want to tell our partners that Georgia will become even more stable."

Georgian authorities announced over the weekend that five suspects had been arrested on charges of taking part in the assassination attempt on Shevardnadze on Feb. 9.

Up to 20 gunmen showered his motorcade with grenades and automatic gunfire, killing two guards but leaving the president unharmed.

Shevardnadze has blamed the attack on followers of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia's leader when it received independence following the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Gamsakhurdia was ousted in early 1992 and he died in mysterious circumstances in 1994. His supporters, though few in number, have kept up fervent anti-government protests.

An investigator with Georgia's Prosecutor's Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Monday all five people arrested over the weekend were supporters of Gamsakhurdia.

Shevardnadze said the attackers were trained abroad and described them as hired guns whose masters wanted to "throw Georgia into chaos.'' He didn't elaborate.

Shevardnadze, who served as Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, also criticized Russia for sheltering a man allegedly involved in a 1995 attempt on his life.

Georgia has charged the country's former security chief Igor Giorgadze with organizing that assassination attempt. But Russia has not tried to extradite Giorgadze, who has been living near Moscow.

Over the weekend, Shevardnadze said he saw a "definite connection'' between the two attempts on his life.

Russian authorities say they have failed so far to trace Giorgadze in Russia, but Shevardnadze believes his foe is protected by powerful Russian groups.

(Reuters, AP)