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Abkhaz Leader Threatens Georgian Ships

Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh at an April press conference in Moscow
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The leader of the Russian-backed rebel region of Abkhazia has threatened to destroy Georgian ships which entered the enclave's "territorial waters," Interfax news agency reported.

Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh ordered the Abkhaz Navy to destroy Georgian ships in Abkhazia's waters because of Georgian "acts of piracy," the agency added.

Bagapsh said Russian warships, which protect Abkhazia, would not take part in any operations against Georgian shipping. It was not immediately clear what naval resources Abkhazia had at its disposal to enforce the new directive against Georgia.

Georgia has banned all economic and commercial activity with Abkhazia and the other breakaway region of South Ossetia after last year's five-day war with Russia, when Moscow repelled a Georgian assault on rebel South Ossetia.

Tbilisi, backed by most of the international community, regards the two regions as integral parts of its territory; Russia and Nicaragua have recognized them as independent states.

A Turkish ship's captain was jailed for 24 years in Georgia on September 1 for trying to deliver fuel to Abkhazia in breach of the Georgian economic blockade.