Six Ukrainian separatists killed around Donetsk airport

DONETSK Ukraine Sat May 31, 2014 12:13pm EDT

A pro-Russian rebel sniper of the Battalion Vostok takes cover behind a tree near the local administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk May 29, 2014. Picture taken May 29, 2014. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A pro-Russian rebel sniper of the Battalion Vostok takes cover behind a tree near the local administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk May 29, 2014. Picture taken May 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

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DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian separatist leader Denis Pushilin said on Saturday six rebels had been killed while trying to collect the bodies of comrades who had died under Ukrainian army fire earlier this week close to Donetsk airport.

Ukrainian forces regained control of the airport in the east of the country on Monday, killing at least 50 separatists, after a Sunday presidential election which gave billionaire Petro Poroshenko an overwhelming victory.

It was the first time the Ukrainian side had unleashed its full force on the pro-Russian two-month rebellion, caused partly by the ouster of a Moscow-friendly president and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian troops.

"They died trying to take back the Ukrainian airport, and our boys were trying to get their bodies out," Pushilin said over the telephone, without giving further details of the violence. He said the six had died during the day on Friday.

Though fighting has died down for now in Donetsk, the stand-off over the city airport remained unresolved on Saturday with amateur video footage showing a cargo plane taking off and releasing decoy flares as it was fired at from the ground.

Regional newsagency Interfax cited the prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic as saying the separatists will ask the International Red Cross to remove corpses by the aiport. It was unclear how many remained.

A spokesman for the Kiev-led "Anti-terrorist operation" or ATO said earlier in the day two new attacks on the airport had been repelled by Ukrainian forces with no injuries to their side, Interfax reported. It was not clear whether the attacks were in fact attempts by separatists to clear bodies.

In Donetsk itself, 2,000 people gathered in the city's central Lenin Square on Saturday, waving Russian flags and chanting "Russia! Russia!" in support of the self-proclaimed republic, which has sought help from Moscow. "I have no other objective but to make Donbass a part of Russia," said Alexander Boroday, the self-styled prime minister of the republic, referring to a wider eastern Ukrainian region containing heavy industry, coalmining and steel works.

Further away from the city center, rebels built up two new barricades overnight: by the sprawling residence of multi-billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, the country's richest man, and by the headquarters of the heavily armed, pro-Russian Battalion Vostok militia.

At a cemetery in the adjacent town of Makievka, 10 rebels fired into the air to honor their comrade, Vasily Burov, 46, killed on Thursday in a firefight with the Ukrainian army.

(Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Comments (16)
carlmartel wrote:
The east Ukrainians have lost six more men trying to recover bodies from Tuesday’s battle. The article mentions a transport plane leaving and using flares after receiving ground fire, but there was no report of air defense missiles at Donetsk Airport that is northwest of the main city. West Ukrainian troops surrendered air defence missiles to east Ukrainians at Slaviansk who shot down a helicopter there two months later, but they do not appear to have shared the missiles with eastern forces at Donetsk. Reports of men crossing from Russia into Ukraine mention assault rifles, light machine guns, and rocket propelled grenades and launchers that would have difficulty taking down a transport aircraft. Western forces are probably flying into the airport, but they may not feel that they have enough strength at this time to move into the city.

May 31, 2014 1:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
zigo wrote:
Rocket propelled grenades don’t kill people, people kill people.

There is really no reason to limit the second amendment to guns. After all, if the government attacks you, what use will a gun be against their nuclear weapons?

The second amendment should give us the right to own RPGs. And if you dare to come in my street, I will blow you away.

May 31, 2014 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mjp1958 wrote:
Putin = Hitler

May 31, 2014 2:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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