Ukrainian minister: 21 killed in ‘full-scale military clash’ in eastern Ukraine
By End the Lie
The Ukrainian military killed 20 pro-Russian separatists occupying police headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Friday, according to the Interior Ministry in Kiev.
The push, which left one Ukrainian security officer dead, appeared to be the largest yet in Kiev’s renewed military assault against pro-Russian activists in the eastern part of the country.
While the number couldn’t be independently confirmed, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the figure was stated by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.
Avakov said that the pitched battle began when “a terrorist group” attempted to seize the police headquarters in Mariupol.
The attempt resulted in a battle inside the building between the pro-Russian forces and Ukrainian army, national guard and security forces.
“A terrorist group of about 60 men armed with automatic weapons attacked the police headquarters … About 20 terrorists were destroyed and four taken prisoner,” Avakov said on his Facebook page, according to the Herald.
ITV also cited Avakov, pointing out that the minister said there will be no backing down from Ukrainian forces who face armed separatists.
“Our position towards armed terrorists will remain one and the same – shoot to kill,” Avakov reportedly said.
The police station was reduced to “smoldering rubble” after the Ukrainian forces attacked the building with rocket propelled grenades, according to local residents cited by The New York Times.
The Times placed the number of the dead at “at least seven people,” while AP reports placed the number at three.
Hours after the attack on the police station, two dead bodies remained lying in the street, “possibly victims of gunfire that the security forces leveled against a crowd of people who broke away from a pro-Russian Victory Day march to lend support to the police inside the station, residents said,” according to the Times.
Hospital officials told the paper that 26 people were being treated for wounds.
This attack was the first time the Ukrainian military has launched a full-scale assault on one of the rebel-held buildings in eastern Ukraine.
Avakov’s statements put forward a much more hostile line than has been seen from the Ukrainian government recently.
“To those who come with weapons and who shoot and who take hostages, torture them, rob people, hiding behind various slogans – to them there can be only one answer from the Ukrainian state – annihilation,” Avakov said, according to Reuters.
The pro-Russian rebels have rejected any hope of dialogue in response to the attack.
“After what they (Ukrainian forces) did today in Mariupol, after that number of dead, there can be no talk of peaceful dialogue,” said Miroslav Rudenko, a leader of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” who was quoted by Interfax.
The city of Mariupol is an important center for the industrial and shipping sectors in the Donetsk region.
Donetsk is planning to hold a referendum on secession on Sunday.
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