Georgian troops killed as many as 11 militants and freed several civilian hostages after clashing with gunmen near the border with Russia’s Dagestan region, the Interior Ministry said.
Three Georgian soldiers were also killed during the operation, with the gunfight still continuing, Nodar Kharshiladze, a deputy interior minister, said today by phone from the capital, Tbilisi. As many as six militants are surrounded by Georgian troops, he said.
Georgia started the operation to free civilian hostages after discovering a large group of suspected militants near the village of Lapankuri in the Kakhetia region, according to Kharshiladze.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili compared the incident to terrorist activities and kidnappings in the north Caucasus region in the 1990s, when Russian troops fought with the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
“We have peace and quiet over here,” Saakashvili said in televised remarks. “We will not allow this to happen again, to spread on our territory and threaten our people.”
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