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UN-led group investigating the shelling in March of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge
A UN-led group investigating the shelling in March of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge, the de facto border between Georgia and breakaway Abkhazia, said Tuesday it needed more information to continue the inquiry. Tbilisi said two helicopters had violated Georgia's airspace March 11 by flying from Abkhazia, and that the artillery shelling had also originated from that direction, accusing Abkhazia and Russia of the attacks, in which no casualties were reported. Moscow and Sukhumi denied the involvement. The group, comprising officials from Georgia, Abkhazia and Russian-led peacekeepers deployed in the Caucasus region since the bloody post-Soviet conflict in the early 1990s, said it expected the involved parties to provide data shortly. The group held two patrols in the area, interviewing locals, Georgian police and peacekeepers, and examined shell casings to determine the type of weapons used and the shelling direction. Mutual accusations of violating a ceasefire regime have been frequent from both Abkhazia and Georgia, whose President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to regain control of the region. Peace talks broke off when Tbilisi sent troops into Kodori in July and established a parallel Abkhaz administration there. Ex-Soviet Georgia enjoys strong U.S. backing for its drive to join NATO and hopes membership in the Western military alliance will help it bring Abkhazia and another breakaway republic, South Ossetia, back to its fold. Backing Abkhazia's bid for independence, Moscow has argued the region could hope for international recognition if the UN grants sovereignty to Serbia's Kosovo province.
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