Georgians Held in Failed Assassination of Shevardnadze

from Associated Press

Authorities have arrested members of a "terrorist group" believed to be behind the assassination attempt on Georgian leader Eduard A. Shevardnadze, including a top government official and the chief aide to Georgia's most powerful warlord.

The announcement Monday of the arrests did not directly accuse warlord Dzhaba Ioseliani--Shevardnadze's rival and, until last week, fellow candidate for president--of involvement in last month's car bombing.

But both men named as the ringleaders--Deputy Security Minister Teimuraz Khachishvili and Georgy Gelashvili, the head of Georgia's paramilitary Rescue Corps--are considered to be close to Ioseliani.

Authorities said both men were arrested Aug. 30, the day after the blast outside the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and have confessed to their roles.

Authorities did not say how many other people have been arrested in the blast, in which Shevardnadze was slightly injured.

Ioseliani and his paramilitary group Sakartvelos Mkhedrioni, or Knights of Georgia, played a key part in the ousting of Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in January, 1992.

Both Shevardnadze and Ioseliani were running in the Nov. 5 presidential elections, but the warlord announced last week that he was pulling out of the race to protest what he called Shevardnadze's reign of terror.

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