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VOA reporters were on the scene as a Ukrainian military helicopter exploded at a base near the eastern town of Kramatorsk on Friday, apparently after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

A local resident saw the explosion but not what caused it.

“Something exploded,” he said. “Then the helicopter caught fire. We saw nothing. We did not see the any people near the helicopter.”

Multiple explosions followed and echoed throughout the surrounding area.

Officials in Kyiv said the explosion was caused by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Until the blasts, the air base was quiet, except for a few protesters manning a makeshift checkpoint. They said they were there to defend local people from the Ukrainian military.

Afterward, security forces cleared out the protesters.

Area residents like Sergei Kalina said that civilians could get hurt during these military operations.

"Schools are closed,” he said. “Kindergartens are closed. How are we not worried?"
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    Arash Arabasadi

    Arash Arabasadi is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a decade of experience shooting, producing, writing and editing. He has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Ukraine, as well as domestically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Arash has also been a guest lecturer at Howard University, Hampton University, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ashley and their two dogs.

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