At least 5 dead as pro-Russia insurgents attack border guard base in eastern Ukraine
By End the LieHundreds of pro-Russia insurgents launched an assault on a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, according to reports, leaving at least five dead.
Russian media outlet ITAR-TASS also reports that five people were killed and at least 10 injured when a Ukrainian fighter jet reportedly launched an air strike on the regional administration building in Luhansk.
The attack on the border guards was also launched in Luhansk, where reports indicate that from 200 to 400 rebels participated in the operation.
The border guards killed five insurgents and injured eight more, according to a border guard spokesman cited by the Associated Press.
At least three Ukrainian servicemen were seriously injured in the battle, according to spokesman Serhiy Astakhov.
Monday’s gunfight was part of a larger, increasingly aggressive campaign against Ukrainian government checkpoints. The aim is “to seize guns and ammunition from Ukrainian forces,” according to AP.
Separatists had occupied the upper floors of an apartment building near the border guard base, which they used to fire on the post, according to security sources cited by Reuters.
The fighting was ongoing at the time reports were published.
“Shooting is continuing. There has been no let-up in firing for seven hours now,” said Oleh Slobodin, the border post spokesman. “We have 8 or 9 wounded. The attackers have five dead and 8 wounded.”
One of those killed by Ukrainian forces was identified by an insurgent as a leading rebel commander, according to an Associated Press report.
The Ukrainian army had not yet reinforced the border guards to help them push back against the rebel attacks at the time Reuters published their report.
Vladislav Seleznyov, the spokesman for Ukraine’s anti-terrorist center, told Fox News on Monday that the attack was still ongoing.
Seleznyov told AP that the base was an important for the coordination of border guards across the province. The attack may have been an effort to disrupt communications, according to Seleznyov.
Rebels fired at least six rocket-propelled grenadesa at the compound from the rooftop of a nearby residential building, according to AP.
One report cites a border guard service statement claiming that the rebels are “using live shields.”
In addition to the attack in Luhansk, Seleznyov said there was an attack on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk on Monday.
Slovyansk, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, has been a hotbed of pro-Russian rebel activity.
“He said rebels had mined a number of power plants in Slovyansk, which he claimed would be detonated if the government were to move on the city,” Fox News reports.
The ITAR-TASS report of an attack on the regional administration building in Luhansk has so far not been picked up by Western media.
ITAR-TASS also ran a radically different version of the gunfight provided by insurgent leaders.
The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic’s press service told ITAR-TASS that their fighters were “clashing with Right Sector radicals and the National Guard.”
Derek Chollet, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, expressed significant concerns about the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine during a visit to Kiev on Monday.
Chollet said the U.S. is ready to help Ukraine bolster their security and reformed their armed forces in response to the violence.
He added that the U.S. recognizes that there is terrorist activity in the region, which is destabilizing the country. Chollet focused on the assault on the border guards on Monday, saying the U.S. views it with “great concern,” according to The Washington Post.