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Georgia: Border Troops Block Chechen Fighters

Tbilisi, 5 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian border guards say yet another group of Chechen fighters have crossed into Georgia from neighboring Chechnya. Officials said the Chechen fighters -- whose number was not immediately known -- crossed into Georgia late yesterday and were blocked by border troops. On 3 August, Georgian border guards detained a group of seven Chechen fighters after they crossed over from Chechnya.

Russia has repeatedly accused Georgia of not doing enough against Chechen fighters allegedly located in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. Several thousand Chechen refugees have lived for years in Pankisi and Russia says rebels have often sought refuge there.

Georgia says it is "abiding by all its international commitments" and has consistently refused Russian offers of joint military operations against the separatists.

Yesterday, Georgian border guards said they were bombarded by Russian planes from Chechnya -- allegedly for the fourth time during that past week. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations.