A Georgian police officer was wounded on Thursday when a police checkpoint near the breakaway Abkhazia region came under fire, Georgian authorities said.
Georgia blamed Abkhazian separatist forces for the early morning attack in which they said weapons were fired at a checkpoint for about 15 minutes. Abkhazian authorities denied involvement.
Several police were shot dead along Georgia's de facto borders with Abkhazia and another Russian-backed separatist region, South Ossetia, after Georgia's 2008 war with Russia. But the areas have been relatively quiet for months.
Georgia's Interior Ministry said the policeman was lightly wounded in the leg and was hospitalised in the western town of Zugdidi.
"Georgian police did not respond to the shooting," Interior Ministry spokesman Zurab Gagnidze told Reuters.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations after the five-day war in which Russia crushed a Georgian assault on South Ossetia after years of rising tension between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Russian forces took control of the de facto borders after the war -- part of a military presence the United States and European Union say violates an EU-brokered cease-fire deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs on Thursday for Poland and four ex-Soviet republics including Georgia, which straddles a westward export route for Caspian Sea energy resources and has been a a focus of competition between Moscow and Washington for regional clout.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 01 Temmuz 2010, 19:54