Angry residents in eastern Ukrainian village block government tanks
Thursday, May 01, 2014 - 01:40
May 2 - Angry residents surround Ukrainian armored personnel carriers in a small village in the Donetsk region, urging forces not to advance and to disarm. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Ukrainian troops landing helicopters and moving heavy military equipment in the eastern Ukrainian village of Andriivka faced off with angry residents on Friday (May 2).
As the troops landed helicopters in a field, villagers, some holding icons and depictions of religious figures, shouted and argued with troops in armored personnel carriers (APCs) and soldiers lined up alongside the road.
Ukrainian authorities launched a dawn operation on Friday in an attempt to retake the restive town of Slaviansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have been holed up in several public buildings since the beginning of last month.
Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian helicopters on Friday, killing two crew, as troops tightened their siege of separatist-held Slaviansk and Moscow accused Kiev of launching a "criminal" assault that wrecked hopes of peace.
Though Ukrainian forces appeared to be carrying out one of their most concerted military operations yet, their advance on the ground was limited. Nevertheless, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman accused Kiev of firing on civilians from the air in a "punitive operation" that destroyed an international peace plan.
Reuters journalists in Slaviansk, the most heavily fortified bastion of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, heard shooting break out and saw one helicopter opening fire before dawn. Ten hours later, the city was largely quiet, with shops shut and armed separatists in control of the streets.
Advancing Ukrainian forces in armored vehicles took up positions closer in to the suburbs, but rebels still controlled most of the city of 130,000 residents.
Kiev said the firing of missiles that brought down its helicopters was evidence that Russian forces were present in the city. Moscow denies that its troops are on the ground.
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