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Georgian Official Calls Rail Blast A Terror Attack

TBILISI (Reuters) -- A railway line connecting east and west Georgia has been damaged by an explosion in what a local railway official described as a "terrorist" attack.

The explosion on the Tbilisi-to-Zugdidi line occurred at around 3:30 a.m. (2230 GMT on June 1), two hours before a passenger train was due to travel the route.

"I think it's a pure terrorist attack because some explosives and a clock mechanism were used," Zurab Gogokhia, the chief of Georgian Railways for the west of the country, said. "Thank God it happened before the passenger train appeared," he told Reuters.

An Interior Ministry official said the route is not one of those used to ship Caspian oil from Azerbaijan to Georgia's Black Sea coast.

The explosion took place near the village of Ingiri, around 300 kilometers from the capital, Tbilisi, on one of the main routes for passenger and cargo trains.

"Several meters of the railway line are destroyed and repair works are under way and it will be reopened very soon," Gogokhia said.

Georgia fought a five-day war with Russia last year after it attempted to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Moscow subsequently recognized both South Ossetia and a second breakaway region of Abkhazia as independent countries.

The site of the explosion was close to the de facto border with Abkhazia but there was no immediate evidence of any separatist involvement.