Georgians shootdown 'Russian' plane

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A plane of uncertain origin went down over Abkhazia, an official of the separatist region said yesterday, a day after Georgian forces claim they fired on a plane believed to be Russian that had violated the country's airspace.

The Georgian claim further escalated tensions with Russia, which had soared earlier in the month when Georgia said a Russian bomber dropped a missile on a Georgian village. The missile did not explode. In both cases Russia vehemently denied that its planes had violated Georgian airspace.

In the latest claim, Georgia said it fired on Wednesday at a plane over Upper Abkhazia, a remote mountainous area adjacent to separatist-controlled Abkhazia.

Russia accused Georgia of wanting to ratchet up tensions over the status of South Ossetia, another region that is seeking independence or incorporation into Russia.