De facto Abkhazia says man who attacked Bank of Georgia branch in Zugdidi won’t be allowed into occupied region

  • The attacker is on the run and escaped from the bank with three hostages whom he later released. Photo: netgazeti., 22 Oct 2020 - 12:13, Tbilisi,Georgia

The de facto authorities of Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region say the man who held up a Bank of Georgia branch in Zugdidi yesterday will not be allowed into the region. 

Sputnik cites the de facto authorities as saying that the attacker has not been mentioned near the occupied region so far. 

The attacker, who demanded half a million USD, released a Georgian regional police officer and the last three hostages in the forest of Kirtskhi village in Chkhotortsu municipality, near the Russian-occupied Abkhazia region. 

A search is being conducted for the man.

How did the robbery take place? 

  • Police received a call about an armed attacker in the Bank of Georgia Zugdidi branch at 14:21 yesterday. 
  • Initially the attacker took 43 hostages, including consumers and the bank personnel.
  • At about 16:00, one of the hostages, Irakli Kvaratskhelia, was forced to call TV channel Mtavari Arkhi and relay the demands of the attacker, noting there were 19 hostages, including him in the building and that the attacker was heavily armed, with an opened hand-grenade in his hand.
  • Kvaratskhelia voiced the attacker’s demands which included 500,000 USD, for police to leave the area and security guarantees. 
  • The Interior Ministry began ‘long and complicated negotiations’ with the attacker which ended in the release of several hostages.
  • At 23:00 the attacker left the building with the head of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti police chief Avtandil Galdava and three hostages. 
  • Kvaratskhelia said that the police handed money to the attacker. 
  • Earlier today the ministry reported that all the hostages were released safely thanks to Galdava, while the attacker ran.

The chief of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti police Avtandil Galdava on the photo. 

Ruling party officials have praised the police for their efforts to end the operation without victims, while the opposition has accused the government of a ‘poorly planned special operation’ and an increase in crime.