A clash over a contested church in a majority-Armenian part of Georgia has raised tensions and, many fear, set the stage for further ethnic conflict.
The clash took place in Kumurdo, a nearly entirely ethnic Armenian village in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti bordering Armenia. The village is the site of at a tenth-century Georgian church, the Kumordo Cathedral, which has been undergoing reconstruction work by the Georgian Ministry of Culture.
In the course of that work some graves were found. For the last two centuries or so the church has functioned as an Armenian church, and on September 30 a group of locals brought a khachkar -- a traditional Armenian stone memorial marker -- to the church to lay at the site where they believed their ancestors were buried.
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