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One Killed In Attack On Muslims In Abkhazia

GUDAUTA, Georgia -- One man was killed when a group of Muslims were attacked as they left a mosque in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus reports.

Arsaul Piliya, 34, was shot dead in the attack in the town of Gudauta on October 8. Two brothers, Rustam and Rauli Gitsba, were wounded.

The attackers opened fire on the men from a passing car that was later found burned out near the village of Achandara.

Investigators told RFE/RL the car is registered in the name of Zaporozhets in the town of Khimki, near Moscow. Neither Russian nor border guards on the border crossing from Russia into Abkhazia have any information regarding the car.

Beslan Kvinitsiya, the first deputy of the prosecutor-general in Abkhazia, told RFE/RL the case looks similar to one that happened in Gudauta in 2007, when Islamic official Khamzat (Rokki) Gitsba and Ruslan Assadulin, his friend from the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, were shot dead by attackers who also used a car that was registered abroad and later found burned.

The incident is the third attack against Muslims in Abkhazia in the last two months. The leader of Muslims in Gagra district, Emik Chakmach-Ogly, was killed and the imam of the mosque in Sukhumi, Salekh Kvaratskhelia, survived an assassination attempt in August.

About 15 percent of the people living in Abkhazia are Muslim.