Isani Counter-Terrorism Unit Operation: Gunfire & Grenades

Tbilisi was on high alert on Wednesday as a special operation commenced at 4am on Monk Gabriel Street in the Isani district of Georgia’s capital city, where gunshots had first been heard during the night.

The special operation was carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Unit of the Georgian State Security Service, leading to the inhabitants of two apartment buildings being evacuated and a public school being closed.

The Counter-Terrorism Unit tried to negotiate with the suspects, encouraging them to surrender, but they refused, opening gunfire and throwing hand grenades.

The situation finally drew to a close on Wednesday evening, with the Security Service announcing at 7PM that one member of the terrorist group had been arrested and three killed. They also claim that the suspects were not citizens of Georgia, and are allegedly members of a known terrorist organization, having been under surveillance for some time as part of an ongoing international investigation.

The mission was not without casualties on the Georgian side, with a 41-year-old member of the Counter Terrorism Unit, who was wounded early in the operation, later dying in hospital from a series of injuries. He has yet to be named.

A further two officers were wounded and taken to hospital. Two members of the Special Task Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia were also wounded.

Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, has assured residents of the evacuated apartment buildings that any damage caused will be fully compensated for. He also said that the families who were evacuated will be offered shelter, with the Isani municipality to register them and provide them with temporary housing. The Mayor also offered his condolences to the family of the counter-terrorism unit officer who died. “The safety of our citizens is paramount,” he added.

Aslan Jabraelov, believed to be one of the owners of the apartment in question, was interrogated by police. He claimed he rented out his apartment a month ago at the request of his brother-in-law, without knowing who the new inhabitants were.

Full identification of the terrorist group members, and investigation of their possible links with international crime, is ongoing within the international anti-terrorism cooperation framework.

Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili; Head of the Georgian State Security Service (SSS), Vakhtang Gomelauri; Interior Minister, Giorgi Gakharia; and Deputy Health Minister, Zaza Sopromadze, visited the officers who were wounded during the 22-hour anti-terrorism operation at the referral hospital in Isani on Wednesday evening.

The PM called on citizens to refrain from making any speculations at this stage of the investigation.

“Of course, questions can be asked, and there are institutional formats in which these questions can be answered, but we can’t go into too much detail of these highly sensitive operations,” he noted.

Kvirikashvili added that it is safe for people to go about their everyday business in the city.

“Our main priority was the safety of our citizens,” The Prime Minister said of the operation, thanking the police officers and the counter-terrorism unit for their work and wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded officers.


23 November 2017 15:52