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Tbilisi gunfire as Georgia security forces mount siege

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Tbilisi gunfire as Georgia security forces mount siege

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The militants in the flat are now surrounded by the security forces, the authorities say

Explosions and gunfire have broken out in the Georgian capital Tbilisi as counter-terrorism forces lay siege to a block of flats where suspected militants are holed up.

The security service said several members of a "terrorist group" had refused to surrender and were firing and lobbing grenades from inside.

One member of the security forces is reported to have been seriously hurt.

Some accounts say those trapped inside the building are foreigners.

Others say they come from the Pankisi Gorge, a Georgian region with a large ethnic Chechen population, some of whom have joined jihadist groups in Syria.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Georgia has not had any jihadist-related incidents in recent years, correspondents say
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some accounts say those trapped inside the building are foreigners
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The security forces arrived at the scene in armoured vehicles
  • Chechens drawn south to fight against Syria's Assad

An AFP reporter on the scene of Wednesday's skirmishes reported hearing multiple explosions and heavy gunfire in Tbilisi's Isani district, which has now been cordoned off by police.

One TV station broadcast footage of a burning flat in a multi-storey residential building surrounded by camouflaged soldiers and an armoured vehicle.

Security service spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani said in a televised statement that one suspect had been arrested and a special operation was under way to catch several others.

She said that preliminary information suggested the suspects were not Georgian nationals but members of a "terrorist group".

"Investigation is under way both in Georgia and abroad to establish the suspects' criminal links," she said.

One report said that the wounded soldier had died during surgery.

Georgia has not had any jihadist-related incidents in recent years, correspondents say, but it is estimated that about 50 Georgians are fighting or have fought alongside the group known as Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.


Source – bbc.com

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