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Emzar Kvitsiani (file photo) (InterPressNews)
July 27, 2006 -- Georgian authorities are offering a $57,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the leader of a rebel militia in the Kodori Gorge, which straddles the breakaway region of Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.
Georgian government forces launched the operation against Emzar Kvitsiani, a former presidential envoy to Kodori, and his militia on July 25, after he refused authorities' order to disarm.
Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili today said the "major phase" of the operation was over as all the villages in the Kodori Gorge are now under the control of government forces.
He said a woman was killed when Kvitsiani's militia opened fire against army helicopters in the village of Chkhalta and government forces fired back.
Kvitsiani says he is defending the rights of the local Svan people, who form part of the Georgian ethnic group.