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Georgia: Officials Know Location Of UN Hostages

Tbilisi, 14 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - A senior Georgian official said today that authorities have discovered the location of seven UN workers taken hostage by gunmen in Abkhazia. The head of the Security Ministry's anti-terrorist center (Levan Kenchadze) said the hostages were in the village of Mramba, about two kilometers from where they were seized yesterday. He did not say how authorities discovered the location. Meanwhile, the Georgian defense minister, Lieutenant-General David Tevzadze, said he has cut short a visit to Ukraine to "study" the hostage situation. Tevzadze arrived in Tbilisi late yesterday and said he will today visit the Kondor gorge in Abkhazia where the hostages were taken. The UN workers had arrived in the town of Azhara by helicopter to deliver aid when they were kidnapped by masked gunmen. The gunmen are demanding a $200,000 ransom. UN observers are in the Georgian breakaway republic to monitor a truce between Georgian forces and Abkhaz separatists. The separatists took control of the province in a 1992-93 war.