21 Apr 2019 14:36

Situation in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge worsens again as extra special operations forces arrive

TBILISI. April 21 (Interfax) - The arrival of additional units of special operations forces in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, where local residents have been protesting since Sunday morning against the start of the construction of the Khadori-3 small-sized hydroelectric power plant (HPP) at the Alazani River, has put a further strain on the situation there.

As soon as the new units arrived, protesters began hurling stones at them, prompting special operations forces to use rubber pellets and tear gas in response, Georgian media reported.

Both policemen and local residents have been hurt.

A clash broke out between the Georgian Interior Ministry's special operations forces and local residents in the Pankisi Gorge several hours ago, entailing injuries on both sides. Protesters spread over an area of several dozen meters after an Interior Ministry representative proposed launching negotiations.

According to media reports, negotiations between Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and a group of Pankisi Gorge residents in Telavi fell through due to the authorities' hardline stance.

The special operations forces have now retreated. The protesters are gathering stones.