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Explosion Destroys Key Bridge in Georgia

An explosion has destroyed a key bridge linking Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia with the rest of the country.

Georgian officials and Abkhazian authorities blamed each other for the blast. Residents of Abkhazia's Gali district had used the bridge to reach Georgia's Zugdidi region. Georgian authorities have called the explosion an effort by separatist and Russian officials to cut off Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian region, South Ossetia, from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the chief of the European Union monitors in Georgia, Hansjoerg Haber, asked Russia to give specific information about what it called Georgian ceasefire violations near the two breakaway areas. He said Russia has so far not provided even a telephone number monitors could use for consultations. He also urged the Russians and authorities in breakaway regions to permit monitors entry into the two areas.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday complained that European monitors are ignoring Georgian troop movements that violate the ceasefire accords.

Russia has formally recognized the independence of the two breakaway areas and President Dmitri Medvedev Friday appointed ambassadors to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian troops swept into Georgia in August, after Georgian forces tried to regain control of South Ossetia by force. The Russian troops withdrew from most of Georgia earlier this month but remain in the breakaway regions.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.