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Shevardnadze threatens force

MOSCOW (Reuter) - Georgia's leader, Eduard Shevardnadze, yesterday warned that government troops would retake a stronghold in the breakaway region of Abkhazia captured earlier in the day by separatists. Abkhazian rebels broke through the defences in the northern Black Sea coastal town of Gagra yesterday and captured it after two hours of street fighting. Mr Shevardnadze flew to the regional capital, Sukhumi, now under the control of government troops, and said Gagra had to be returned to government control.

'Every possible measure will be taken to achieve this - force will be used,' local journalists quoted Mr Shevardnadze as telling Georgian television last night. Mr Shevardnadze said he would not hesitate to mobilise the entire Georgian population if necessary.