Georgia says it fired at Russian plane

Updated: 2007-08-25 19:55

Georgian forces fired at a plane they believed was Russian after it violated the Caucasus republic's airspace on Wednesday, a senior interior ministry official said.

The incident marks an intensification of a row between the two countries in which Georgia has accused Russian planes of violating its border and of dropping a missile near Tbilisi.

Russia called the Georgian statement a provocation. It has not reported any plane missing, and when asked specifically about the Georgian statement an official denied Russian aircraft had violated Georgian airspace.

"The day before yesterday at 22:24 in the mountains of Upper Abkhazia we opened fire on a Russian plane, after which we heard an explosion," Shota Utiashvili, head of the interior ministry's analytical department, said on Friday.

It was not clear what caused that explosion.

"The forest is on fire there, but we cannot confirm that the plane was shot down," Utiashvili said, adding that the interior ministry would send a helicopter to the area on Saturday to investigate.

Utiashvili could not say what kind of airplane it was, but insisted it was Russian.

Moscow says its planes have never violated Georgia's border.

"This is another provocation in the information campaign waged against us," Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Drobyshevsky, an aide to Russian airforce commander, as saying.

"I say this officially, Russian airplanes did not violate the Georgian air space."

Georgia said on Wednesday two Russian planes had violated its border around the same area. Two weeks ago it accused Russian jets of dropping a missile near the capital, Tbilisi.

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