The lawyer of the suspect who is in detention following yesterday’s anti-terrorist operation in Tbilisi has denied that the defendant has any connections with a terrorist group. Speaking with journalists, lawyer Imeda Karkashadze said the suspect has Russian citizenship and that he was arrested by Georgian police before the special operation had begun.
Three suspects were killed and one is in detention following the 22-hour special anti-terrorist which ended yesterday at around 18:00, the State Security Service confirms. The suspected terrorists were engaged in shootings with special ops from inside an apartment building in Tbilisi’s Isani district.
Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia told journalists that “investigations are being held in other countries too, and we are dealing with international terrorism.” Gakharia called on everyone to refrain from discussions of the case until the investigation into is over.
The head of State Security Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri, has not specified whether the suspects are members of a terrorist group. Gomelauri has called the suspected terrorists ‘members of a criminal group’ several times. He did say that “if we look at what happened today, it is clear that they have committed a terrorist act in Georgia for battling law enforcement authorities for 18 hours.”
Gomelauri said they have been observing the suspects over a number of weeks and that international anti-terrorist cooperation was also involved in the full identification of the members of the group in order to find criminal connections.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has also asked to refrain from speculations, addressing criticism that it took special ops 22 hours to complete the operation.
“I want to call upon everyone, that in cases like this, speculations are not right. There should be a moment where we will all stand together. Of course there might be some questions and institutional formats where these questions will be answered, but discussing the details of such an operation so publicly is not okay.
I also want to address speculations regarding the length of the operation. Of course, there could have been a different action, but the main priority was to ensure the safety of the population and everything was done to avoid creating victims in this direction. Our special ops employees successfully managed to achieve that. We’ve seen special operations in other countries where the building is destroyed.. but we have a different style, different handwriting. I want to thank everyone who’ve brought this result that we have - at the cost of their lives,” the prime minister said.
“There were also questions about how did they [the suspects] turn up in the center of Tbilisi. Of course they did not appear in the center of Tbilisi today, there was preliminary information and because the work had been carried out before, that’s why they were found there.
Everyone suddenly became an expert in this field and I think that in such situations, we need to act more respectfully,” Kvirikashvili said.
Secretary of the National Security Council Davit Rakviashvili also issued a statement emphasizing the loss of one special op who died during the operation. Rakviashvili said that the council will analyze the case regarding the efficiency of reaction mechanisms and crisis prevention.
One special op employee was killed in the operation; two employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and two employees of the State Security Service have also been injured but are in stable condition.