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Georgia: Some 1,000 Troops Move Into Pankisi Gorge

Pichkhovani, Georgia; 26 August 2002 (RFE./RL) -- Georgia has sent about 1,000 troops into the Pankisi Gorge near the border with Chechnya, which Russia says has become a refuge for Chechen rebels. The Georgian Interior Ministry said its forces are carrying out anticriminal and antiterrorist operations in the gorge.

Yesterday's move came hours after the United States rebuked Moscow for allegedly "indiscriminately bombing villages in northern Georgia" on 23 August.

Russian military officials yesterday again denied its planes had been involved in the incident, in which a civilian was reported killed. The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said it was considering its response to the U.S. criticism.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze hailed the U.S. statement, telling state television in Tbilisi that "the main thing is that the White House has reflected the real barbarity of this act."