The leader of Abkhazia, a Russia-backed breakaway region that claims independence from Georgia, has narrowly survived an assassination attempt that killed two people and badly wounded another.
Alexander Ankvab, the Abkhaz president confirmed he had not been hurt despite damage to his car, which was attacked as he travelled to work in the capital, Sukhumi.
Ankvab was elected president in 2011 after the death of veteran leader Sergei Bagapsh. The attack was the sixth attempt on his life in recent years.
Authorities said a roadside mine exploded as Ankvab's convoy approached. Attackers then opened fire with machine guns and a grenade launcher, local media reported.
"Abkhaz President Alexander Ankvab was not wounded in the assassination attempt and is now at his desk," his head of security, Anri Bogua, was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency.
"One guard has been killed and one is in an extremely grave condition," said Bogua.
Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast, has been in turmoil and ethnic tension since breaking away from Tbilisi's rule in 1993.
Moscow recognised Abkhazia as an independent state after a 2008 war in which Russia crushed a Georgian attempt to take control of another breakaway region, South Ossetia.
Officials in Abkhazia say they are using Russian protection to claim independence and throw off centuries of
But Georgia says the region is completely dominated by Moscow and is being used as a hideout for Russian criminal gangs and corrupt officials.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|
|William A. Cook|