2,000 Volunteers Arrive to Help Georgian City Repulse Rebels

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Heeding Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze’s plea for help in resisting Abkhazian rebels, about 2,000 volunteers took up battle stations Saturday in the besieged city of Sukhumi.

Planes and buses ferried armed men and supplies from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to Sukhumi, the provincial capital of Abkhazia. The former resort on the Black Sea is the last government stronghold in the separatist region.

The reinforcements greatly increased the chances that government forces would hold the city, but fierce battles continued in the suburbs. Georgia’s Defense Ministry said 32 Georgian soldiers and civilians had been killed and more than 300 wounded in three days of fighting.

There was no word on Abkhazian casualties.


One Russian soldier was killed and 13 wounded by Abkhazian shelling, Russian commanders told the Interfax news agency. The soldiers were among several hundred former Soviet troops still stationed in Abkhazia but now under Russian command.

Fighting broke out in August, 1992, when Georgian government troops marched into the northwestern region after a declaration of sovereignty by Abkhazia’s nationalist-controlled governing council.

Since then, more than 2,000 people have been killed. The conflict is one of several in Georgia since the Soviet collapse.

Both Russia and the United Nations have demanded that the rebels stop the attack, which violated a Russian-brokered cease-fire agreement signed July 27.


In Moscow, President Boris N. Yeltsin and senior military officials met in the Kremlin to discuss the Georgian situation.

Russian Defense Minister Pavel S. Grachev said Saturday that he had offered to send Russian troops to halt the civil war but that Shevardnadze rejected the idea.