Monday 25 September 2017

More than 30 killed in fighting as Ukraine closes Donetsk airport

Pro-Russian activists brake the glass of the offices of Industrial Union of Donbass Corporation in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine
Pro-Russian activists brake the glass of the offices of Industrial Union of Donbass Corporation in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine
Pro-Russian protesters gather to honor the memory of fallen comrades during fighting with pro-Ukrainian activists in Odessa on Friday, at the barricades in front of the administration building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

More than 30 pro-Russian separatists were killed in fighting near the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said this morning.

"We estimate that the terrorists lost more than 30 people," Avakov wrote on Facebook.

Pro-Russian rebels ambushed Ukrainian forces on Monday, triggering fierce fighting near Slaviansk. Avakov said four Ukrainian servicemen had been killed and 20 wounded.

The pro-Russian rebels said on Monday four of their number had been killed in the fighting

The airport of a volatile eastern Ukrainian city has been closed, a day after troops mounted an offensive against pro-Russian forces that killed at least a dozen people.

A statement published on the Donetsk airport website today said the facility was closed to departing and arriving flights because of a government order.

Ukraine's government gave no information about the closure, and an airport spokeswoman said she had not received any information about how long the closure would last.

Yesterday, pitched gun battles killed at least four Ukrainian officers as well as at least eight other people, both civilians and pro-Russian militants.

The Ukrainian army has struggled to regain control over the volatile east, where pro-Russian forces have seized government buildings and police stations across at least a dozen towns.

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