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Abkhaz Prosecutor Identifies Two Possible Motives For Mosque Shooting

The Prosecutor-General's Office of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia has identified two possible motives for the drive-by shooting in Gudauta on October 8 in which one man was killed and two wounded as they left the building that serves as the local mosque.

The first is that the shooting, and possible also earlier attacks, was the work of "radical Islamists from neighboring countries," undertaken in retaliation after they failed to persuade Abkhazia's Muslim community to proselytize radical Islam in Abkhazia.

That scenario seems implausible insofar as it is not substantiated by the details of the perpetrators' modus operandi or the tactics espoused by the North Caucasus insurgency units in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, which borders on Abkhazia, and Kabardino-Balkaria. The Gudauta perpetrators reportedly used a Volkswagen Touareg registered in Moscow Oblast, which had been internally adapted to facilitate opening fire with an automatic weapon though one of the back windows. The abandoned, burned-out vehicle was found a few kilometers away later on October 8.

Unlike its counterparts in Ingushetia and Daghestan, the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai jamaat does not favor drive-by shootings. It targets primarily police and security personnel, either by deploying fighters who open fire on them on the street, or by attaching improvised explosive devices to police vehicles.

Those North Caucasus fighting units that do stage drive-by shootings on a regular basis almost always use inconspicuous Russian-manufactured cars stolen locally. Why should they bother to steal a car thousands of kilometers away?

The second hypothesis was that the shooting was perpetrated by the intelligence service of an unnamed neighboring state (clearly meaning Georgia) with the express aim of sowing interconfessional enmity in Abkhazia and undermining Abkhazia's friendly relations with the Russian Federation.

Abkhazia's de facto prime minister, Sergei Shamba, clearly gives greater credence to the latter hypothesis. He was quoted on October 9 as telling a local radio station that the shooting the previous day, like earlier attacks on Muslims in Abkhazia, was the work of "our enemies," who, Shamba claimed, seek to bring about the "spillover" of the North Caucasus insurgency into Abkhazia in order to create a confrontation between Abkhazia and Russia.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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