Deadly gunfight in Eastern Ukraine shakes fragile Easter truce
Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 01:34
April 20 - At least two people were killed on Easter Sunday in a gunfight near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, shaking an already fragile international accord designed to avert a wider conflict. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Easter Sunday was anything but peaceful in this corner of eastern Ukraine.
At least two people were killed in a gunfight near Slaviansk, at this makeshift checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists.
They say they were attacked by a convoy of ultra-nationalists called the Right Sector, whose power base is in the west.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UNARMED ACTIVIST WORKING AT CHECKPOINT 20, VLADIMIR, SAYING:
"People jumped out of Jeeps and started shooting at us. They threw stun grenades. Our people started running in various directions when somebody shouted 'down!'. A sniper was shooting those who tried to run into the village. The first who ran was killed by a sniper right away, then there was a second dead. There was another man, he was crawling, he wouldn't get up, he was just lying there waiting for a miracle."
The Right Sector denies any role.
It says Russian special forces were behind the attack.
In Slaviansk, the self-styled separatist mayor says, from now on, his fighters won't hold back.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SELF-STYLED MAYOR OF SLAVIANSK, PRO-RUSSIAN SUPPORTER, VYACHESLAV PONOMARYOV, SAYING:
"Until today these were just clashes with minimal losses, but now no one can expect any mercy from us."
The attack shakes an already fragile international accord between the government and armed groups to diffuse the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Separatists in the Russian-speaking east are rebelling against pro-western leaders in the capitol Kiev.
Failure of the accord could bring more bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.
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