On robbers and hostages in Western Georgia. The whole story
At about three o’clock in the afternoon on October 21, an armed man in military uniform broke into the building of a Bank of Georgia branch on Gamsakhurdia Avenue in the center of Zugdidi (western Georgia) and took 43 people, employees and visitors hostage.
Witnesses say he had a grenade.
Using the hostages, the perpetrator contacted Georgian TV companies and passed on his demands – half a million dollars, an unarmed negotiator from the authorities and security guarantees.
By 20.30, three hostages had been released.
By four in the morning, the special operation was completed: the required amount was handed over to the attacker, he released all the hostages and left in a car in an unknown direction. Nobody was hurt.
Perp, identified as military serviceman, yet to be detained. Last seen escaping in police car
The man who held 43 people hostage for several hours and fled with half a million dollars is being sought by the police in the Samegrelo region, near the village of Kirtskhi. There, three hostages saw him for the last time, when he released them, and he himself got into a car and drove away.
Local residents say that they did not see any strangers or unknown cars in the village.
Bank robber frees hostages in forest - video
This video was filmed at about 4 am today in a forest near the city of Chkhorotsku in Georgia tonight. The criminal frees the hostages, whom he took from the bank in Zugdidi on October 21 – after he received the half a million dollars he demanded.
This video was published by Zugdidi TV channel Odishi. The Georgian MIA has not confirmed its authenticity
Hostage talks about what happened in the Zugdidi bank during the hold up
Irakli Kvaratskhelia was one of the hostage in the bank in Zugdidi who, at the request of the criminal, called the news service of Mtavari TV channel to convey the attackers’ demands: half a million dollars and security guarantees.
After being interrogated by the police over night, Kvaratskhelia told reporters what was happening at the bank – and especially thanked the head of the regional police Avtandil Galdav for his release.
He came to the bank at about two in the afternoon on October 21, took his spot in line and waited for his turn.
“Then I heard shots outside, and then an armed man in military uniform broke into the bank. He immediately disarmed the bank guard. I saw it all clearly and understood that this was serious.
Then the criminal fired two more shots outside and said that he was answering those who were shooting at him.
He took everyone to the third floor and demanded that each of us call the patrol, dialing 112. We all called. Then he addressed one of the hostages and demanded that he call the Pirveli TV channel. The man replied that he did not have a Facebook page, and another hostage also replied. And then he turned to me – and I said that I have a Facebook page. He was holding a grenade in his hand said they should be informed of the situation so that the police would not start storming the building – otherwise we would all have died. At first he was aggressive, but then we all managed to make him more sociable so that it would be difficult for him to shoot us if this situation arises. In the seven hours spent together, some people even joked.
When he was deciding who the three hostages would be, whom he took with him, leaving the bank, he decided to take the men. Two men from among the hostages volunteered themselves, the third he chose.
He was wearing a mask all the time, but if I heard his voice, I could recognize him.
When he demanded that one of the hostages call the journalists, he dictated what to say, but several times he himself intervened in the conversation.”
Kvaratskhelia also said that a campaign was launched against him on social networks due to the fact that he is a supporter of the former president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili. On his Facebook page, Kvaratskhelia has photos with Saakashvili.
“For some reason, this information is especially emphasized by the pro-government media, and some officials also said this. This is completely immoral, this is insane.
Yes, I am a supporter of the National Movement and I believe that this party can better govern the country. And that, because of this, I should not go to the bank? Shouldn’t go outside? Something completely unheard of is happening,” said Kvaratskhelia.
Zugdidi bank robber did not escape into Abkhazia, local authorities say
The head of the administration of the Gali district of Abkhazia, Konstantin Pilia, said that the rumors that the criminal who seized the bank in Zugdidi had moved to Abkhazia were unfounded. “He cannot cross the border,” Pilia told reporters.
The events were also discussed at a meeting of the Security Council of Abkhazia. The secretary of the Council, Sergei Shamba, also said that there is no information about the criminal’s possible movements into Abkhazia.
The attacker released the last three hostages in the forest and fled. Hostages being questioned
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has not yet provided information about the whereabouts of the criminal who took hostages in a bank in Zugdidi, Georgia on October 21.
According to unofficial information, after he left the bank building with three hostages, whom he tied to himself, the criminal freed them in a forest near the village of Kirtskhi in the Chkhorotskuy region, after which he disappeared.
The interrogation of the hostages began at night and continues now.
Video footage of attacker during bank holdup
Bank of Georgia video footage of how the attack unfolded
43 hostages had been held in bank by attacker – all freed, no injuries, perp makes off with payment
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia reports it is unknown to where the offender made off with half a million dollars received from the police. The search continues.
One of the hostages, Lasha Shengelia, told Rustavi 2 that they were released in a dark place. He confirmed that the perpetrator had a grenade.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported the following version of events:
• At about three o’clock in the afternoon in Zugdidi an armed attack was carried out on a branch of the Bank of Georgia.
• The perpetrator took 43 people, bank employees and visitors hostage.
• As a result of lengthy negotiations, most of them were gradually released during the day, and were replaced by Avtandil Galdava, the head of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region police.
• At about 22.00 Avtandil Galdava and three hostages together with the attacker left the bank building.
• It was Galdava’s efforts that made it possible to free all the hostages and no one was hurt.
Attacker given money, leaves area with 3 hostages, releasing 13 others
Georgian media report that the attacker has been given money (he demanded half a million USD) and tied three hostages to himself and left the building in an unknown direction, holding a grenade.
Photo: Levan Gabechava
Media reports Zugdidi bank hostages freed, attacker detained – MIA yet to confirmTV channel Mtavari and other Georgian media outlets report that a special operation in the Zugdidi Bank of Georgia branch has been completed, taking control of all three floors of the building and freeing the hostages.The Georgian Interior Ministry has yet to report.According to other sources, the offender, holding a grenade in his hands, left the bank building with three hostages after being given money.A hostage wrote about this on his Facebook page, who at the request of the criminal immediately after the seizure of the bank called the Mtavari Arkhi TV channel to convey his demands. He is among the released hostages.
Attacker releases 2 more hostages, 16 remain
The attackers who have taken hostages in the Zugdidi branch of the Bank of Georgia have released two more hostages, with 16 remaining in the bank,
Irakli Kobakhidze - actions of some media outlets may be criminally prosecutable
Irakli Kobakhidze, executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party, held a special briefing on current events in Zugdidi. At a five-minute briefing, he made a short statement in which he spoke mainly about the opposition and the responsibility of the opposition media.
Kobakhidze stated that there are signs of a criminal offense in the actions of the opposition media.
Kobakhidze did not answer journalists’ questions about a rise in crime in the country:
“When the situation is so difficult, 19 hostages need to be released, and journalists from Mtavari Archi and Channel One ask Prime Minister Gakharia about crime statistics, that’s a shame,” Kobakhidze said.
Kobakhidze said that some statements by specific politicians about the current events in Zugdidi were made “to earn political points.”
Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on media to stop broadcasting from scene, threatens to suspend broadcastingThe Ministry of Internal Affairs has demanded the media and mobile operators stop broadcasting the special operation in Zugdidi.Deputy Minister Vladimir Bortsvadze said that otherwise the right provided by law will be used, which would mean the termination of broadcasting:“We categorically demand that all media, including mobile operators, turn off live broadcasts in order to protect hostages, law enforcement agencies and ordinary citizens, as well as the effectiveness of police measures. Otherwise, the state reserves the right to use all legislative levers to ensure this,” said the Deputy Minister.
Video: one hostage rescued from bank building. Radio Atinati
Less than a minute ago, a woman was let out of the Bank of Georgia branch in Zugdidi. The police have delivered her to a safe place.
Nika Gvaramia, the director of Mtavari TV, explains how the attacker contacted him
Nika Gvaramia, General Director of the Main Channel, writes on Facebook how he was contacted by the person who now has 19 hostages in a bank in Zugdidi:
“I want to explain how the terrorist got in touch. To be honest, I was so shocked that I couldn’t understand what was happening. I opened a group chat with the news producer Tea Giligashvili, and then what you saw on air took place. Even now I’m so confused that I can’t understand what’s happened. I am publishing our exchange below”, Gvaramia wrote.
Imedi: attacker requests a meeting with bank employee
Imedi writes that the attacker has demanded a meeting with an employee of Bank of Georgia in Zugdidi.
According to Maestro, the attacker demanded a certain amount of money from the bank employees, but according to other versions, he is requesting a meeting with the manager or one of the employees of the bank.
“There are also reports that the attacker allowed a pregnant bank employee to leave the building”, Imedi news reported.
Attacker gives two hour deadline to police – Mtavari Arkhi
In Zugdidi, a bank attacker has given police a deadline of 2 hours. He made this statement during a live broadcast with Mtavari Arkhi.
Irakli Kvaratskhelia, one of the hostages in the bank, contacted Mtavari. The attacker was also interviewed through him.
The gunman said law enforcement officers were not complying with his initial request and were not withdrawing special forces from the area:
“Law enforcers did not react to this fact, no one came despite the request. The first demand was that the special forces were removed from the perimeter, we have been talking to the law enforcers from the moment of entry. The deadline is 2 hours,” the attacker told Mtavari Arkhi.
Photograph taken by the hostages. The footage is broadcast by Odishi TV
Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs releases a statement
The Ministry of Internal Affairs received a report on the intrusion of an armed person into Bank of Georgia located on Gamsakhurdia Avenue in Zugdidi at 14:21.
An operation to neutralize the offender is currently underway on the spot. Law enforcers are mobilized, investigative and operative measures are being taken.
“The investigation into the incident has been launched under Articles 179, 236 and 144 of the Criminal Code (robbery, illegal acquisition and possession of weapons and hostage-taking). The Ministry of Internal Affairs will gradually inform the public,” the MIA said in a statement.
Hostage calls Mtavari Arkhi, footage
The hostage called Mtavari Arkhi live on the air. He says the attacker is demanding $ 500,000. According to him, 19 people are being held hostage.
“We are 19 people in one room in the building. The kidnapper is armed to the teeth with a machine gun and a grenade and is holding it constantly, so it is impossible to solve this situation with violence. The attacker demands cash, delivery on the spot and a guarantee to leave the area safely.”
An eyewitness comment
According to one of the bank’s employees, Anna Shonia, on Maestro, there were many people in the bank’s service area, some of whom had already been released by the attacker.
“I was serving one of the clients, when the robber came in, shot several times and shouted that it was a robbery, his demand was for us to lie on the floor. I do not remember how I found myself outside. Apparently a client took me out. There were quite a lot of people waiting for services, but as far as I know, elderly citizens were released”
The attackers are demanding $500,000
According TV channel Formula, the attackers broke into the Bank of Georgia in Zugdidi and demanded half a million dollars.
Formula One contacted one of the hostages at the bank, who said there were about 20 hostages in the room. According to him, there are three attackers in total.
The hostage told Formula that the attackers were wearing military uniforms and they shot several times. Apparently, one person was slightly injured.