Georgia has accused the Russian military of being involved in an attack on a helicopter carrying the Georgian defence minister. The helicopter was fired at by South Ossetian rebels while en route to Senaki on Sunday. No one was injured in the shooting which forced an emergency landing. Defence Minister Irakly Okruashvili said: “It was the Ossetian gangs. They think that Georgian helicopters are violating South Ossetian airspace. Everyone has to reconcile with the fact that the rebels’ rampage will end very soon.”
Tensions between Georgia and South Ossetia go back to the early 1990s when the region declared its independence. South Ossetia now seeks closer ties with neighbouring Russia, accused by Georgia of giving the breakaway state financial support. Georgia has pledged to regain control of the region where a joint peacekeeping force of both Russians and Georgians is deployed.