WASHINGTON (AFP) – A possible hand grenade was reportedly thrown toward a stage in Georgia where US President George W. Bush was giving a speech, but the device was taken away by a Georgian security officer, the US Secret Service said.
“After the president departed the country of Georgia we were notified by host country authorities of a report that during the president’s speech in Tbilisi a device described as a possible hand grenade was thrown within 100 feet (30 meters) of the stage,” said Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry.
“It was reported that a device hit an individual in the crowd and the device fell to the ground,” Cherry said.
“It was reported that a Georgian security officer picked up the device which did not detonate and removed it from the area,” he said.
NBC News, citing the Secret Service, said the Georgian officer “ran off” with the device, which was “rendered safe and did not go off on its own.”
Citing a US official, the network said the grenade’s safety pin had been removed.
Bush was speaking before tens of thousands of cheering Georgians in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square when the incident occurred.
“At this time we have not seen the reported device. We have agents on the ground in Tbilisi working with the
FBI, State Department and host country security authorities to look further into this report,” Cherry said.
The US leader was safely back in Washington late Tuesday, after his presidential jet landed at Andrews Air Force base here.
The White House did not speak with reporters about the incident on the president’s plane en route to Washington.