KRAMATORSK, UKRAINE - 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?"