|Abkhazia leader murder plot suspects commit suicide|
|April 18, 2012|
Two men suspected of staging an armed attack on the leader of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia have committed suicide, officials said Wednesday.
One of the suspects charged with involvement in the assassination attempt on Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab in February, killed himself in custody overnight in the Russian-backed rebel region's capital Sukhumi.
"Timur Khutaba, one of the detainees in the criminal case over the attempted murder of head of state Alexander Ankvab, hanged himself in Sukhumi's remand prison," a law enforcement official told AFP.
His suicide came after Abkhazia's former Interior Minister Almasbey Kchach shot himself at his house in the town of Gagra on Tuesday as police arrived to arrest him for allegedly helping to organise the assassination attempt.
"The body of Almasbey Kchach was found on a bed in the bedroom, clothed, with a pistol in his hand," the prosecutor's office said in a statement reported by local official news agency Apsnypress.
The agency reported that police said they had evidence that Kchach, who served as interior minister from 1996 to 2003 and ran for the vice-presidency in 2009, helped to stage the attack which saw armed men opening fire on Ankvab's motorcade after setting off a roadside bomb.
A third suspect also cut his own throat while being arrested on Tuesday but did not succeed in killing himself, police said.
Two bodyguards died of wounds sustained in the ambush -- the sixth attempt on Ankvab's life in recent years, which he blamed on criminal gangs linked to political circles seeking to take control of the rebel region.
Abkhaz separatists declared independence after driving out Georgian troops in a civil war in the 1990s that killed several thousand people and forced a quarter of a million, mostly ethnic Georgians, out of the region.
Moscow recognised Abkhazia as independent in the wake of Russia's brief war with Georgia in 2008 and permanently stationed thousands of troops at military bases there -- a move that Tbilisi describes as occupation.
But with the exception of a handful of far-flung states, the rest of the world still regards Abkhazia as part of Georgian territory.
© AFP 2012. All rights reserved.
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