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Georgia Grenade Suspect Captured

Georgian police detained a man Wednesday suspected of throwing a live grenade during a rally at which President Bush spoke in May, the Interior Ministry said. The capture came after a shootout in which one officer was killed and another wounded.

The shootout and detention occurred Wednesday evening in the village of Vashlisdzhvari, outside the capital, Tbilisi, ministry spokesman Guram Donadze told The Associated Press. The suspect fled into the woods but was later detained, Donadze said.

Rustavi-2 television showed pictures of a dark-haired man it described as the suspect being hustled into a car by police officers. It said he was wounded and identified him as Vladimir Arutyunov, in his late 20s.

The man lived in an eight-story apartment building with his mother, Rustavi-2 reported, citing neighbors as saying Arutyunov was unemployed. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

The police operation came two days after authorities released a photograph of a man suspected of throwing the grenade, which failed to explode, at a podium where Mr. Bush was speaking May 10 before tens of thousands of people.

President Mikhail Saakashvili was also on the podium when Mr. Bush spoke, raising the prospect that the grenade could have been directed at him.

In Washington, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, Eric Zahren, said the agency is monitoring the investigation by the Georgian authorities. "We were not directly involved and not present" at the arrest, he said.


Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili had announced a reward of about $80,000 for information leading to the identification of the man, who was shown with dark hair and dark glasses.

The live grenade landed less than 100 feet from the podium but did not explode. A preliminary investigation indicated the activation device deployed too slowly to hit the blasting cap hard enough, the FBI said.

Georgian officials had initially claimed the grenade was not set to explode, and U.S. officials initially said Mr. Bush had been in no danger, but they later said the grenade had been a threat to his life.

Mr. Bush spoke from behind bulletproof glass, addressing a huge crowd in a main Tbilisi square as part of a visit aimed at cementing relations between the United States and Georgia's new pro-Western leadership.

Saakashvili, who came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted Eduard Shevardnadze, has provoked enmity with his anti-corruption initiatives and insistence on restoring control over two separatist regions.

The FBI statement contradicted initial reports by Georgian officials that the Soviet-era grenade was found on the ground, was inactive and posed no danger to Mr. Bush.

The FBI identified it as a live hand grenade, whereas initial Georgian statements said it appeared to have been an "engineering grenade," a device that is not designed to spread shrapnel.

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