TBILISI, Georgia — Three people have been picked up for questioning in the murder of an American CIA operative, and the head of security for Georgia's leader was suspended Wednesday pending the outcome of the investigation.
The security chief, Eldar Gogoladze, was driving the car in which Fred Woodruff, 45, was killed by a gunshot Sunday night. His suspension was reported by an official of the Ministry of Information and Intelligence, where Gogoladze works.
Woodruff was shot in the head by an unknown assailant while driving with Gogoladze and two Georgian women along a crime-plagued stretch of road 15 miles from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. The motive was not clear.
On Tuesday, CIA Director R. James Woolsey flew to Tbilisi to bring Woodruff's body home.
James Hutchinson, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, said three people were picked up for questioning. At least one was wearing a uniform, he said, but he added that it was unclear whether the man was a soldier.
Hutchinson said the plane that brought Woolsey left behind an American official to help Georgian investigators.
The embassy had no other information on the people questioned or whether they had been detained.
Georgian officials did not provide additional information about the case. But Maj. Soso Margishivili, spokesman for the Georgian military, said no Georgian guardsmen have been detained.
Georgian officials have said that Woodruff might have been a victim of common crime, which is growing amid a general air of lawlessness in Georgia. There also was speculation that police fired on Woodruff's vehicle because it failed to stop at several checkpoints.
U.S. officials have been vague about what Woodruff was doing in Georgia. He reportedly was invited to help train Georgian security forces and had been in Tbilisi since June. He was due back in Washington in a few days.
Georgia has been torn by ethnic violence and unrest since it broke from the Soviet Union in April, 1991. Georgia's leader, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, faces threats on all sides and has warned that the government is in danger of falling.