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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Georgia police detain suspected Bush attacker

July 20, 2005

TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgian police detained on Wednesday a
man suspected of throwing a grenade during a speech by visiting
President Bush in May, the Georgian Interior Ministry said.

Police raided a property in the Vashlijvari suburb of
Tbilisi where the suspect was hiding, but he got away after a
gunfight in which one policeman was killed, a ministry
spokesman said.

Dozens of police combed a nearby wood and emerged with the
suspect, who was covered in blood, and put him in a police car,
a Reuters witness said.

“As a result of an exchange of fire, started by the young
suspect, one of the anti-terrorism officers has been killed and
the suspect himself was wounded,” Interior Minister Vano
Merabishvili told reporters.

The security scare blighted a trip intended to show Bush’s
support for the former Soviet state’s West-leaning government,
which came to power after a democratic revolution 20 months
ago.

U.S. officials said at the time the grenade only failed to
explode because of a malfunction and landed within 30 meters
(100 feet) of the president as he spoke to tens of thousands of
people in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square.

Officials said the grenade could have caused major injuries
in the close-packed crowd, the largest gathering of people on
the square since the “Rose Revolution” led by now-President
Mikhail Saakashvili.

“Georgia’s anti-terrorism center has done a lot of great
work along with our American colleagues during the last months,
as a result we got a photograph of the suspect,” Merabishvili
said.

He said information was so far preliminary but that an
investigation was under way.

Georgian police announced a new $83,000 reward for
information about the suspect on Monday.