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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tbilisi Says Abkhaz Soldiers Planned a Series of Attacks

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's top law enforcement officers said Friday that Abkhaz soldiers who clashed with Georgian troops a day earlier had planned a series of attacks on Georgian-controlled territory.

At least two Abkhaz fighters were killed and several others wounded, officials on both sides said. Georgia on Friday published the names of seven soldiers it captured.

In a sharply worded statement, the Foreign Ministry accused Georgia of sending saboteurs into Abkhaz-controlled territory and attacking Abkhaz troops -- a statement that reflected Moscow's long-standing backing for the breakaway region.

Thursday's gunbattle along the internal border separating Georgian-controlled territory from Abkhaz-controlled lands was one of the most serious outbreaks of violence between the two sides for some time. The circumstances behind the clash were unclear. Georgian authorities said fighting broke out when Abkhaz gunmen attacked workers building a road to link the Kodor Gorge with Georgian-controlled areas. The upper part of the Kodor Gorge, called Upper Abkhazia, is the only part of Abkhazia controlled by Georgian forces.

"The Abkhaz subversive group was tasked with carrying out several acts of subversion in Upper Abkhazia in order to cut the Kodor Gorge from the rest of Georgia," Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said.

Abkhazia's top defense official, Merab Keshmariya, said he had ordered border posts to higher alert along the border with Georgia.

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry demanded that the United Nations conduct an investigation into the incident. It also said Georgia was to blame, accusing Georgian forces of crossing into Abkhaz-controlled territory.

At the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the incident and said the UN Observer Mission in Georgia was investigating.