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UN Probe Seeks Further Information on Attack on Government Post

A United Nations-led fact-finding team is seeking more information on last month's attack on a Government position in north-west Georgia where fighting between Government and Abkhaz separatist forces 14 years ago drove nearly 300,000 people from their homes.

In an update on its investigation into the 11 March attacks in the upper Kodori valley, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG ) said all parties had presented useful information and arguments regarding the events, and consensus had been reached on a number of aspects of the incident. The Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG), headed by UNOMIG and including representatives from the Georgian Government, the Abkhaz de facto authorities and the Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) agreed that "further progress requires additional information, which it expects to be provided in the near future," the mission said.

"The Mission hopes that further cooperation by all sides will enable the JFFG to make a substantial contribution to understanding the 11 March incident," it added.

The JFFG conducted two patrols to the upper Kodori valley, travelling extensively. It was afforded full access to security personnel, posts and installations. The patrols examined evidence from ordnance involved in the attack to determine what type of weaponry was involved.

In an effort to determine the direction and distance from which the attacks were conducted, the JFFG conducted 'crater analysis' of 17 different ground impact sites and inspected the damaged Chkhalta administration building.

UNOMIG was set up in 1993 and expanded in 1994 to verify compliance with a cessation of hostilities and separation of forces accord, with patrols of the Kodori valley a specific part of its mandate. But it stopped patrolling the upper part of the valley in 2003 when four mission members were held hostage for a few days by unknown armed elements.

In January the Security Council cited the resumption of patrols as a positive development but expressed unease at the continuing tension between the two sides. In a report to the 15-member body that month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that recent violence could escalate and he called on all sides to engage in dialogue.

Source: United Nations
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