Belfast Telegraph

Georgia sends tanks to quell army rebellion

Georgian officials have sent tanks and armoured personnel carriers to a military base near Tbilisi where soldiers have apparently mounted a mutiny.

The authorities are describing the situation at the Mukhrovani base as a coup attempt and an effort to disrupt NATO exercises due to get underway in Georgia tomorrow.

President Mikhail Saakashvili says a mutiny in a tank battalion based near Georgia's capital is an isolated case and the situation in the country is fully under control.

The defense minister says the base where the mutiny occurred Tuesday has been sealed off.

The mutiny followed an announcement by the Interior Ministry that it had uncovered a Russia-supported plot to overthrow the government and had arrested the suspected organizer.

Saakashvili said in a televised address that the government was taking the mutiny seriously but it was an isolated incident. He said the situation in the country was under control.

The president has been the target of more than three weeks of street protests by opposition demonstrators demanding he resign.

Russia has denied the charge and has accused Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvilli of seeking to deflect attention from his own growing unpopularity.

Mr Saakashvilli's opponents have been protesting in the streets for a number of weeks and are planning to block the main roads into Tbilisi today as part of their campaign for his resignation.

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