Ukrainian intelligence officer killed in car blast in Mariupol port

Slideshow ( 2 images )

KIEV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian state security service officer was killed in a car explosion in the eastern port city of Mariupol on Friday, the security service (SBU) said, blaming Russian-backed separatists.

“The SBU will punish the terrorists who blew up the car with the SBU officer in Mariupol as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.

Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Kharaberiush was deputy chief of the local counterintelligence department in the Donetsk region, parts of which have been under the control of Russian-backed rebels since 2014, Ukrainian Interfax news said.

The SBU gave no more details.

Mariupol, a southeastern city of about 500,000 on the Sea of Azov, is about 30 km (20 miles) from the frontline of the conflict between the Ukrainian army and separatists.

Donetsk region police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said the car had exploded on Friday morning in the city center and the officer, the only person inside, died on the spot.

The conflict between Kiev and the separatists has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Matthias Williams and Alison Williams