It started off as a child’s birthday party. But a recent late night celebration at an outdoor café in Georgia’s separatist region of Abkhazia ended up becoming the latest indicator of brewing trouble between Sukhumi and Tbilisi.
The July 6 explosion ripped through the Svetlyachok (Firefly) café in Gali, a predominantly ethnic Georgian town in southern Abkhazia, leaving four people dead and six badly injured. The explosion -- which occurred directly across from the Russian peacekeeping headquarters for the region -- followed a series of blasts in the Abkhaz towns of Gagra and Sukhumi. Those incidents had helped to infuse the Abkhaz peace process with a sense of urgency. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Both sides blame the other for the Gali explosion. Many Georgian officials believe that Russia, which serves the de facto Abkhaz state as both peacekeeper and protector, somehow had a role in the explosion.
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Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNet.org's Caucasus news editor, based in Tbilisi. Sophia Mizante is a freelance photojournalist also based in Tbilisi.