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TROOPS BRACE FOR ATTACK BY GEORGIANS

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Georgian troops took up positions Thursday on roads leading to the capital of the strife-torn Abkhazian region, fearing an attack by separatists driven from the city in August.

Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Sadzhaya said his forces had "concentrated a great number of weapons and armed forces" around Sukhumi.The Black Sea resort city was seized from the separatists on Aug. 18.

But the Abkhazians, bolstered by thousands of Muslim militants and tribesmen from southern Russia, have won a series of military victories in the past week. Georgian forces have been driven out of Abkhazia from Sukhumi north to the Russian border.

Georgia has blamed Russia for its recent defeats, saying Moscow is arming the separatists. Russia denies the allegations.

Sukhumi had a population of 150,000 people before the conflict began six weeks ago. Now, many have fled the fighting.