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Georgia: Police Arrest 12 Accused Of Plotting Assassinations

Tbilisi, 24 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Georgia's Interior Minister Kakhi Targamadze informed the government today police have arrested 12 people who are suspected of plotting to assassinate several high-ranking officials.

Targamadze says police also seized weapons and explosives but he did not say when the arrests occured.

Targamadze says some of the suspects are members of Mkhedrioni -- "the horsemen," an outlawed paramilitary organization that helped oust Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The group played a major role in Georgian politics until being suppressed.

Interfax quotes Georgia's prosecutor-general, Dzhamlet Babilashvili, as saying the group had links with former security service chief Igor Giorgadze.

Giorgadze has been implicated in the attempted assassination of Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze in August 1995.

Babilashvili says some 3,500 "murderers, terrorists, saboteurs and others" were wanted for committing crimes in Georgia. He says the breakaway region of Abkhazia has become "flooded with criminals wanted in different countries."

Targamadze says the smuggling of forged US dollars into Georgia last year has become a threat to national security, with tens of thousands of counterfeit banknotes causing the Georgian currency to decline in value.

Meanwhile, Interfax reports a member of the Abkhaz parliament, Anatoly Kakubava, was killed in a bomb blast today in Sukhumi. The driver was seriously wounded. No suspects were arrested.