Sound carries well in the coastal foothills of the…

UPPER ESHERA, Georgia — Sound carries well in the coastal foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, which at sunrise these days means rifle fire and bursting shells mixed in with crowing roosters and coughing tractor engines.

Georgian and Abkhazian forces have been exchanging gunfire for the last three months in a dispute over who will control Abkhazia — a conflict as confused as the patchwork of ethnic groups scattered through the Caucasus.

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