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Four soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 06.05.2014 08:35
Pro-Russian militants shot down a Ukrainian helicopter and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed near Slaviansk on Monday, as Poland's defence minister says Ukraine has decended into civil war.

An Ukrainian soldier uses his binoculars at a checkpoint not far of Slaviansk, Ukraine, 05 May: photo - EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said rebels tried to ambush government forces on the outskirts of Slaviansk on Monday morning, killing four soldiers with around 30 injured after they came under fire from heavy weaponary.

Sepratists said four of their men died in the conflict near Slaviansk, though the Ukrainian interior ministry claims 30 rebels have been killed in fighting in the area.

The Ukraine defence ministry also said in a statement on its Facebook page that a MI-24 helicopter was shot down after being sprayed by machine gun fire on Monday afternoon, but because the aircraft came down in a river no casualties were reported.

Local people walk near a burnt truck after a shooting in Slaviansk, Ukraine, 05 My. The pro-Western government in Kiev on 02 May started a fresh attempt to quash the rebellion, which it says is actively supported by Russia. Commanders say that Ukrainian army and Interior Ministry troops have fully encircled the city of more than 100,000 inhabitants: photo - EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

The self-declared pro-Russian mayor of Slaviansk Vyacheslav Ponomarev told Reuters: "[Ukrainians] are deploying ever more forces here. Recently there was a parachute drop. For us, they are not military, but fascists."

Meanwhile, the interim government in Kiev sent special forces into the southern city of Odessa after they claim local police failed to contain protests in the city on Sunday leasding to the deaths of around 40 people, mostly pro-Russian militants in a fire in a trade union building they were occupying.

Civil war

“The situation in Ukraine bears all the hallmarks of a creeping civil war,” Poland's defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak has told Polish Radio, adding that there were “clear signs of Russian action” in eastern Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he feared neither side could now control forces unleashed.

"I'm convinced we are struggling against a situation that has taken on a dynamic of its own. There are groups in eastern Ukraine that are not listening to either Kiev, or Moscow,” he said on Monday. (pg)

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