Hypothesis rife as Georgia stays mum on raid suspects

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Georgia’s government has remained restful about the nationality of out of the country gunmen killed in an unlimited-scale police operation in Tbilisi on Wednesday.

Officials said they would not comment on the identification of the suspects, because the investigation is ongoing, whereas Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said their nationality or ethnicity did « no longer topic ».

The dearth of verified files prompted speculation about the incident, whereby security forces battled with unidentified armed men for nearly 24 hours in an home block on the outskirts of the capital.

The particular forces operation ended with four deaths, alongside side three suspects and one security officer.

Local media reported the suspects’ home became as soon as owned by an ethnic Chechen, main to assumptions that Chechens had been interested by the incident. 

« Nothing is undoubtedly acknowledged about what took plight the day old to this, » said Sulkhan Bordzikashvili, an ethnic Chechen from Pankisi Valley, an space of east Georgia dominated by the ethnicity from neighbouring Russia’s self sustaining republic of Chechnya.

« It’s a ways serene unknown who they [the criminals] had been, nonetheless it [the incident] became as soon as very casually pinned on Pankisi, » Bordzikashvili added.

« Now although the investigation exhibits that they had been no longer from Pankisi, public arrangement will live unfavourable in the direction of it. In social media, folks began bashing ethnic Chechens from early on, » he told Al Jazeera in a phone interview from Tbilisi.

« ‘They might be able to additionally fair serene be exiled’, ‘they’ll additionally fair serene be killed’, such messages are circulating on social media from different profiles for the rationale that day old to this. It be a awful yarn. »

Pankisi Valley is a majority Sunni Muslim piece of Georgia [Rabii Kalboussi/Al Jazeera]

Pankisi Valley, 160km northeast from Tbilisi, is a majority Sunni Muslim piece of predominantly Orthodox Christian Georgia.

The space is considered by many Georgians as perilous attributable to the presence of anti-Russian guerrillas, who sheltered there from neighbouring Chechnya for the duration of the 2nd Russian-Chechen battle in the Nineteen Nineties, and many situations of abductions and killings in that interval.

Most no longer too long in the past it attracted unfavourable attention attributable to the huge quantity of Islamic Recount of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also acknowledged as ISIS) recruits that joined the armed personnel below the leadership of Pankisi resident leisurely Tarkhan Batirashvili, also acknowledged as Omar al-Shishani.

Then again, for the rationale that demise of Batirashvili and Georgia’s crackdown on native ISIL recruiters two years in the past, Pankisi’s execrable image began to go.

« In the closing couple of years things had been bettering. We’re attempting to total the full lot to increase things, we’re anticipating tourism to discover off, and now impulsively Pankisi’s identify is linked to terrorists, » Leila Avchashvili, Pankisi resident and mother of two leisurely ISIL opponents, told Al Jazeera from her village of Jokolo.

« What took plight is a adverse truth. We’re all very concerned undoubtedly, luxuriate in every diploma-headed particular person, » she said.

« We, Pankisi Valley residents, know the cost of peace and cohesion. We could well well additionally fair serene live up for the implications of the investigation. This could well well additionally fair be very regrettable if Pankisi is linked to terrorism. »

‘It does no longer topic’

Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia’s top minister, called on the final public now to now not emphasise the ethnicity or nationality of the criminals.

« It does no longer topic, which country’s voters they’re. We could well well additionally fair serene no longer emphasise their ethnicity and nationality, » he said, answering a question about the identification of the gunmen. « Fact is that they rejected a calm provide to resign to the police, answering by shooting, » Kvirikashvili said.

Georgian media coverage of the incident became as soon as criticised by the Georgian Structure of Journalistic Ethics, a non-income organisation, for « relating to voters as ‘terrorists’ essentially based on unverified files and linking them to a particular ethnic personnel ».

« Such files only kindles unfavourable stereotypes and helps stigmatisation, » the charter said in an announcement, calling on media organisations to steer particular of reporting unverified comments.

Local media became as soon as broadcasting dwell from the scene of the unrest on Wednesday, exhibiting the safety forces’ maneuvers from a distance with a tiny lengthen in time to steer particular of compromising the operation.

The dwell coverage prompted criticism from deal of organisations, officials who deemed it irresponsible journalism attributable to the hazards involved on every facet.

« Media has a accountability to refrain from reporting intimately on anti-terrorism or defence actions, which could well well additionally terminate in a radical personnel’s trade of stagger and the failure of an operation, » the charter said.


Mariam Gaprindashvili, who became as soon as reporting dwell from the scene for approximately 18 hours on Wednesday for the inside of most television station, Rustavi 2, told Al Jazeera that she and her colleagues had been keeping the incident from outside the cordoned-off space.

« It became as soon as the favorable cordoned-off territory I if truth be told have ever considered, about 5km, » she said. « The operation lasted goodbye that it seems the gunmen had been very smartly willing for the fight. »

Nika Rurua, a member of Nationwide Stir opposition birthday celebration, told Al Jazeera that it became as soon as no longer the time for blaming somebody for his or her feature in the incident, alongside side the federal government.

« Wednesday’s events picture the crumbling of the safety system in the country. How come these folks with the kind of big stash of weapons that are no longer even supplied in Georgia have long previous unnoticed for 2 years [of their alleged residency in the apartment], » he said. 

« I am hoping now the incident will seemingly be investigated totally and the final public will discover who these folks had been and the design in which so powerful weaponry became as soon as accumulated by them. »

Apply Tamila Varshalomidze on Twitter @tamila87v

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