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Georgian Official Killed In Blast Near Rebel Region


TBILISI (Reuters) -- A district governor has been killed and two police officers wounded in a land-mine explosion near Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region after police reported mortar fire in the boundary zone.

It was the latest in a series of security incidents in the Abkhaz de facto border zone since Russian forces pulled back to within the rebel region early this month, following a five-day war with Georgia in August.

Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said the Georgian Security Council had convened to discuss the violence.

He said the district governor of the Tsalenjikha region had been investigating reports of mortar rounds being fired from Abkhaz territory, when two land mines exploded, followed by gunfire.

"The governor died immediately," Utiashvili said. "A meeting of the Security Council has been called. The situation there now is quiet."

Russian troops and tanks pushed into Georgia in early August to halt a Georgian military offensive to retake pro-Moscow South Ossetia, which like Abkhazia threw off Georgian rule in the early 1990s.

The Russian counterstrike drove Georgian forces out of South Ossetia, and Moscow's troops pushed further into Georgian territory from both rebel regions.

The West called the response disproportionate, and Russian forces have since pulled back from buffer zones around South Ossetia and Abkhazia under a French-brokered cease-fire deal. The Kremlin has recognized the two regions as independent states.

A 225-strong European Union mission is monitoring the cease-fire in both de facto border zones.

On October 24, Georgia accused Russian forces of blowing up a railway bridge crossing the de facto border with Abkhazia.
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