News / Europe

Ukrainian Troops Killed in Rebel Missile Attack

  • Ukrainian troops are pictured near Slovyansk, July 11, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian rocket launcher is seen near the eastern Ukrainian city of Seversk, July 11, 2014.
  • Ukrainian paratroopers sit on top an APC in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian separatist fighters from the so-called Battalion Vostok (East) sit in a truck as they leave a base in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 10, 2014.
  • A woman walks past a building damaged by shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Buildings damaged by a recent shelling are seen in the eastern Ukrainian village of Semenovka, July 9, 2014.
  • People wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Soavyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • Local citizens collect potatoes distributed by the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • An armed man stands guard as people wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
Images from Ukraine
Reuters

A rocket attack by pro-Russian rebels on a post on Ukraine's border with Russia on Friday killed at least 19 government servicemen and wounded 93 others, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said, promising swift retribution from Kyiv.

Zoryan Shkyryak, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arseny Avakov, told reporters in Kyiv that rebel forces fired Grad missiles at Ukrainian troops located in the village of Zelenopillya in the Luhansk region. 

President Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting to discuss what could be the deadliest rebel attack on government forces since the Ukrainian military ended a unilateral cease-fire June 30. He said those responsible for the attack would be "found and destroyed," adding that for every Ukrainian soldier killed, the rebels would pay with "dozens and hundreds of their own."

Kyiv, which has been trying to take greater control of its border with Russia, blames Moscow for fanning the violence and letting fighters and high-powered weaponry cross the frontier from Russia to Ukraine.

The attack comes after government forces appeared to be gaining the upper hand in a three-month battle with separatists, who have set up “people's republics” in the Russian-speaking east of the country and said they want to join Russia.

Last week, Ukrainian forces drove the rebels out of several cities, including Slovyansk, which was their main stronghold. The separatists have massed in Donetsk, the region's industrial hub, with a population of 900,000. Poroshenko's government has threatened a “nasty surprise” to chase them out while limiting civilian casualties. 

On Thursday, the government said security forces had seized a border checkpoint in the Luhansk region and regained control of the town of Siversk, 70 kilometers, or 43 miles, northwest of Luhansk city.

Separatists confirmed Ukraine’s control of Siversk, saying they retreated toward Donetsk to avoid being encircled by Ukrainian troops.

Human rights violations reported

Meanwhile, Amnesty International says it has "graphic and compelling evidence" of beatings and torture in eastern Ukraine, with armed pro-Russian separatists responsible for most of the violence.

In a new report, the rights group says victims are "often subjected to stomach-turning beatings and torture."  It also says there is evidence of a smaller number of abuses by pro-Kyiv forces.

The report says the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine has recorded 222 abductions since April, when separatists seeking autonomy in the east launched their rebellion against the Kyiv government.

People trying to flee

Donesk's main railway station station was crowded with people trying to flee the city, fearing the kind of damage Slovyansk experienced as Ukraine's government fought to wrest control. Reuters news service said some people reported waiting in ticket lines for two hours.

Some 70,000 residents already had fled, separatist leader Alexander Borodai told journalists Thursday, Reuters reported.

Other incidents

Elsewhere in the Luhansk region, four servicemen were killed when their armored personnel vehicle detonated a mine, said military spokesman Andriy Lysenko.

Another military spokesman said a soldier was also killed in the town of Karlovka in Donetsk province.

Separately, at least five miners died and another five were injured when their bus came under fire from the rebels, Lysenko said.

The bus shelling forced energy and coal company DTEK, which employed the miners, to suspend operations at four mines that employ 4,500 people in the economically depressed industrial province of Luhansk, Interfax news agency quoted the company's general director as saying.

Diplomatic efforts

In diplomatic attempts to end the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War, the White House said Poroshenko told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Russia and Ukrainian separatists had refused multiple proposals by Kyiv for venues to negotiate a ceasefire.

Speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, French President Francois Hollande and Merkel urged Moscow to exert pressure on the separatists to de-escalate the violence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Poroshenko by telephone on Thursday to be strategic in battling pro-Russian rebels and to safeguard the general population, a German government spokesman said.

“The chancellor urged President Poroshenko to maintain a sense of proportion in his legitimate actions against the separatists and to protect the civilian population,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

Both agreed on the need for a meeting of the contact group that helped smooth the way for Poroshenko's recent 10-day cease-fire, the statement said.

The chance for peace talks withered after Poroshenko called off the cease-fire  June 30 after rebels repeatedly violated it, infuriating many Ukrainians.

Some information for this report was contributed by Reuters.

Error rendering storify.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: nick
July 12, 2014 8:52 AM
Ukraine should be divided between Russia, Poland, Romania and Hungary and the conflict will be over

by: Anonymous
July 11, 2014 1:41 PM
This article makes it sound like Ukraine is the bad guy.
Why are the terrorists being armed with missles? Ukraine should send the army to kill them all off. If the russians want to speak russian go back to motherland russia

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
July 11, 2014 12:20 PM
The Ukrainian President should sign a security deal that will involve NATO and US in putting forces on ground in protecting it boarder as clear message to Russia to be a responsible Nation despite their need for its gas.

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
July 11, 2014 12:10 PM
Depending on how your read his words, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko implies he favors ethnic cleansing of Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Will the Americans and the EU stand for that?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs