Weekend Violence Leaves Dozens Dead
Published: May 7, 2014 (Issue # 1809)
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s Interior Minister said Tuesday that 30 pro-Russian insurgents were killed during government operations to expunge anti-government forces in and near a town in the east.
Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page Tuesday that four government troops also died and another 20 were injured during fighting in Slovyansk.
Gunbattles took place at various positions around the city in what has proven the most ambitious government effort to date to quell unrest in the mainly Russian-speaking east.
In Donetsk, a major city some 120 kilometers south of Slovyansk, flights from the local airport were suspended Tuesday.
A display board at the Donetsk airport showed international flights had been cancelled and only outbound flights to the capital, Kiev, were still in operation. The airport said on its website that the cancellations followed a government order. It was not immediately clear Tuesday morning how long the suspension was due to remain in effect.
Avakov said Monday that pro-Russia forces in Slovyansk, a city of 125,000, were deploying large-caliber weapons and mortars in the region and there were injured on both sides. Government troops were facing about 800 insurgents, he said.
The most recent fighting in Slovyansk comes after Ukraine sent an elite national guard unit to re-establish control over the southern port city of Odessa on Monday and troops fought pitched gunbattles with a pro-Russia militia that had seized Slovyansk.
The twin moves reflected an apparent escalation of efforts to bring both regions back under Kiev’s control. The possible loss of Odessa in the southwest and parts of eastern Ukraine could be catastrophic for the new government, leaving the country landlocked, cut off entirely from the Black Sea.
Ukraine already lost a significant part of its coastline in March, when its Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia.
Gunfire and multiple explosions rang out Monday in and around Slovyansk, a city of 125,000 that has become the focus of the armed insurgency against the new interim government in Kiev.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement that government troops were battling about 800 pro-Russia forces, which were deploying large-caliber weapons and mortars. His agency reported four officers killed and 30 wounded in the fighting.
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