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Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia displayed on Friday fragments
Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia displayed on Friday fragments of a Georgian surveillance drone it allegedly downed on Thursday.

Abkhazia said it shot down the fifth Georgian surveillance drone since the beginning of the year over the village of Gudava in the Ochamchir district at about 17:10 Moscow time (13:10 GMT). Georgia has denied the report.

"Georgia has repeatedly ignored our warnings, and is deliberately continuing to make the situation worse by risking civilian lives. This is another proof of aggressiveness on the part of official Tbilisi and its reluctance to implement prior agreements," Garri Kupalba, Abkhazia's deputy defense minister, who showed the fragments, quoted from the ministry's statement.

Abkhazia earlier claimed its air defenses had shot down four Georgian surveillance drones this year, two on March 18 and April 20, and a further two on May 4.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry called Abkhazia's claims "absurd," and said they were aimed at escalating tensions in the region. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili also denied the report on Thursday.

"I have just spoken with the [Georgian] defense minister," Saakashvili told reporters. "No plane has been downed."

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.

Earlier reports said Georgia had acquired a total of 40 drones, worth around $2 million each, from Israel between 2006 and 2008.


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