TBILISI, Georgia – Georgia said Tuesday it shot a Russian drone over its territory near the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said the pilotless aircraft was shot down by Georgian police officers Monday near Tsiteliubani, a village near the central city of Gori and close to the separatist region of South Ossetia. He said Tuesday fragments of the plane would be shown to the media.
Russia's Defense Ministry dismissed the report as a "provocation."
Tensions remain high after last month's war between Russia and Georgia. Moscow has kept nearly 8,000 troops in Georgia's two separatist areas — South Ossetia and Abkhazia — and plans to station them there indefinitely.
In addition, one Georgian police officer was killed and three others wounded Sunday by fire from separatist Abkhazian fighters. Another two Georgian officers were wounded Monday when they went to the area to investigate and stepped on a land mine.
Russia has pledged to withdraw its forces from Georgian areas outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia once 200 European Union observers are in place. The EU mission is to deploy by Oct. 1.
But Moscow has refused to let the EU monitors into Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it recognized as independent nations after the war. It also has balked at letting more monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe into South Ossetia, the site of heavy looting and burning of Georgian homes.
The OSCE had hoped to send an additional 80 unarmed observers to South Ossetia, but talks with Russia broke down last week.
War in Georgia broke out Aug. 7 when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia's main city to try to regain control over the area. Russia then repelled the Georgian offensive, routed its army and occupied large swaths of Georgian territory.