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Georgia: Hostage-Takers Want Security Guarantees

Tbilisi, 15 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - Georgia's Interior Ministry says gunmen holding two UN observers and their translator in a remote area of Georgia are demanding security guarantees before releasing them. The ministry said Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze was in telephone contact with the gunmen every 15 minutes. Georgian authorities were confident the three remaining hostages would be released soon. After a day of negotiations with the gunmen yesterday, four other UN workers were released. The seven were seized Wednesday soon after landing by helicopter in a remote village in the Kodori Valley, a mountainous part of Abkhazia. The gunmen holding them demanded a $250,000 ransom. The UN observers were part of a contingent helping monitor a ceasefire between Georgia and separatist Abkhaz forces since the end of hostilities there in 1994.