Wednesday 21 February 2018

Ukrainian separatist leader hurt in bomb attack

Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of pro-Russian rebels in the Luhansk region, is said to be in a stable condition (AP)
Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of pro-Russian rebels in the Luhansk region, is said to be in a stable condition (AP)

A top separatist leader in Ukraine's Luhansk region has been injured in a car bombing.

An explosive device went off near the car of Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.

Mr Plotnitsky is currently in a stable condition in hospital.

Russian state television showed footage of a black SUV, apparently mangled by an explosion.

Fighting between Russian-backed rebels and government forces has been raging since April 2014, leaving more than 9,500 people dead and displacing over a million more.

Luhansk was heavily shelled in the summer of 2014 but the front line has since moved dozens of miles away, and the rebels are in full control of the city and its suburbs.

Mr Plotnitsky was one of the signatories of peace accord in 2015 that helped to lower the intensity of fighting in eastern Ukraine. International observers, however, have reported that both sides have been using the heavy weapons they had promised to withdraw.

Local police chief Oleg Anashchenko was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the bombing is being treated as an act of terror and that police forces have been put on alert.

In Kiev, the Ukrainian presidential spokesman for the military operation in the east, Olexander Motuzyanyk, denied suggestions that the Ukrainian government could be behind the attack.

Unlike the neighbouring rebel-held region of Donetsk, Luhansk separatist leaders have been embroiled in intense infighting since the hostilities broke out, even targeting each other.

Alexei Mozgovoi, Mr Plotnitsky's rival and one of the region's most prominent commanders, was killed last year when his vehicle was ripped apart by a bomb and then strafed by gunfire. Mr Mozgovoi's killers have never been found.


Press Association

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