Russia: August 24, 2002

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: OSCE observers on the Chechen section of the Georgia-Russia border officially confirmed the violation of Georgia's airspace, between 05:15 and 6:00 local time (0015 and 0100 GMT) on 23 August. The OSCE observers at the Girevi checkpoint two kilometers from the border spotted several unmarked airplanes moving towards the south. These airplanes "were moving in groups and at a high-altitude" and a few minutes after they entered Georgia's airspace, the OSCE night patrol reported flashes and blasts within 30-40 kilometers of the border. Georgia has no radar plane-tracking equipment in the area and relies on visual accounts to prove claims of cross-border air raids.

Local residents said the planes had attacked three locations in the Pankisi gorge's Kakhetinsk region while Georgian Security Minister Valery Khaburdzania said that "10 Russian helicopters" had bombed the Ilto gorge (adjacent to the Pankisi region).

Georgian government sources in Tbilisi stated that the Pankisi Gorge and the Tianeti district came under a Russian air strike, with one man killed and another seven injured. A later report claimed that three people were killed (a woman and two men). The victims were local residents who had been riding in a truck and collecting logs from the woods. Russian officials have strongly denied any Air Force's involvement with this incident, as well as all five of Georgia's accusations that Russia violated its airspace in recent weeks. . - Adam Geibel

On the Ingushsetia-Chechen border, eight Russian soldiers were found dead. They belonged to a ten man patrol. It's uncertain if they were killed by rebels, or the two soldiers who are missing (with their weapons and at least 600 rounds of ammo.)

Reports from the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia indicate that a group of 250 Chechen rebels are ready to cross the border into Chechnya. 

 

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