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Third Airliner Hit by Rebel Missile at Georgian Airport

September 24, 1993|From Associated Press

TBILISI, Georgia — Abkhazian rebels attacked the third passenger plane in three days Thursday at Sukhumi airport as Georgian leader Eduard A. Shevardnadze predicted government reinforcements would arrive soon.

Refugees trying to flee the Black Sea city were boarding the aircraft when it was hit by a missile from offshore, Georgian officials said.

Several people reportedly were killed, but the exact casualty toll was not immediately known.

Abkhazian gunners also shot down a Georgian SU-25 jet fighter, and fighting was fierce around the city again.

The airport--the government's only link to the rest of Georgia--was closed after the plane was hit. But Georgian officials said their forces had punched a hole through the Abkhazian blockade around the airport. Georgian forces advanced to within half a mile of the airport.

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