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A day after narrowly escaping assassination, Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze Wednesday declared that "Georgia will win" the battle against reactionary forces.

Ten people suspected of involvement in the car bombing outside the parliament building Tuesday night were arrested Wednesday, said Security Minister Igor Giorgadze.Visibly tired and with several small cuts on his face from flying glass, Shevardnadze voiced anger and defiance. The assassination attempt came moments before he was to leave the building for the ceremonial signing of Georgia's new constitution.

He said "the most reactionary, horrific forces carried out this attack. . . . It was the desperate act of people who have no other way now. They wanted to set fire to Georgia. But Georgia is cleansing itself of these people, and Georgia will win."

Giorgadze said he had warned Shevardnadze of the bomb attack.

"Our people (Security Ministry), the prosecutor's office and the Interior Ministry warned Shevardnadze's security an attack was being prepared," Igor Giorgadze told state television.

Best known as the Soviet foreign minister who helped orchestrate perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev, Shevardnadze has led his Caucasus Mountain country since 1992.

Shevardnadze, formerly Georgia's communist-era boss, has made many enemies while trying to dilute the power of assorted warlords and secessionists in the former Soviet republic, which has been wracked by crime, coups and civil war.

He recently has appeared to be making progress in stemming the chaos. In recent months, he ordered the main paramilitary group, the Mekhedrioni, to disarm, and pushed through the constitution.

The document creates a presidency with greater powers than Shevardnadze now has.He is expected to declare his candidacy in November presidential elections.