Abkhaz leader escapes from deadly ambush

Abkhaz leader escapes from deadly ambush

Abkhaz leader escapes from deadly ambush

Russia’s President Medvedev (R) shakes hands with Alexander Ankvab, Abkhazian President in this photo. Ankvab escaped a mine and gun attack on his convoy. AFP photo

The leader of a Russian-backed Georgian breakaway region narrowly survived an assassination attempt yesterday that killed two of his bodyguards, local media reported.

Abkhazia has been racked by turmoil and ethnic tension since breaking away from Tbilisi’s rule as the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia recognized Abkhazia and another separatist province, South Ossetia, as independent states after the Aug. 2008 Russian-Georgian war, and has kept its troops there.

Alexander Ankvab’s convoy came under attack yesterday when unidentified assailants detonated a land mine and then sprayed the vehicles with automatic gunfire, the Associated Press reported. The regional police said that Ankvab wasn’t hurt, but two of his bodyguards died of wounds at a hospital. Attackers then opened fire with machine guns and a grenade launcher, local media said. “Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab was not wounded in the assassination attempt and is now at his desk,” his head of security, Anri Bogua, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Ankvab, elected in August, had survived four earlier assassination attempts, Reuters reported. Officials in Abkhazia say they are trying to use Russian protection to grasp independence and throw off centuries of Georgian domination. But Georgia says the region is completely dominated by Moscow and is being used as a hideout for Russian criminal gangs and corrupt officials.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter yesterday that Russia is concerned about the assassination attempt on Abkhazian President Alexander Ankvab and hopes the perpetrators will be caught.