Kiev’s forces are using heavy weaponry and tanks in the eastern city of Mariupol to storm the local Interior Ministry building, where police have barricaded inside. After residents began flocking to the scene, Kiev fighters opened fire on civilians.
There are conflicting reports about the killed and injured. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that about 20 anti-Kiev activists were killed and four more were taken captive, according to a statement posted on Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s Facebook page.
However, according to Donetsk authorities, three people have been killed and 25 injured, RIA Novosti cited the Donetsk region council's press service as saying.
At Mariupol hospital doctor has said number killed today could be over 100.— GrahamWPhillips (@GrahamWP_UK) May 9, 2014
Many people came to mark Victory Day, but as the reports of shooting started coming in, they moved on to show support for a few dozen policemen who had barricaded inside the building, refusing to take orders from Kiev.
Federalization supporters screamed “Fascists!” as the Kiev forces approached.
One of the armored vehicles then opened fire at a group of unarmed civilians, according to a self-defense forces’ representative.
According to the 0629.ua news portal, “a tank was seized at the crossroads of Lenina and Torgovaya streets by the representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”
Mariupol’s residents have put up barricades in the streets, burned tires and turned over cars.
“At 12.50, 14 tanks were spotted coming from the agricultural base towards Mariupol. According to medics, there are two dead and 8 wounded,” 0629.ua portal stated.
The outlet also reported that “on the Lenin avenue, two people were seriously wounded – one in the head and another in the stomach. A huge pool of blood is next to the “Arbat” café. It’s not known whether the wounded people have survived. Witnesses say they were driven away in a passenger car. The fighting is on next to the main police department, gunfire is heard. Two armored vehicles blocked the Artyom street.”
The main Interior Ministry building is on fire, 0629.ua news portal reported.
RT’s stringer in Mariupol has been injured while trying to film and is now in hospital. Doctors say that in spite of his bulletproof vest he has sustained a serious injury in the abdomen.
"Your employee was on [Georgievskaya] street,” Andrey, a
Mariupol resident, told RT. “He was showing the armed and
masked people in uniform that he is unarmed, that he was a
journalist. But then he decided to abruptly cross the street. A
shot was heard and he fell... He could not have provoked [the
attack]. As I understood, he showed that he was a journalist and
wanted to come closer to get a good picture.”
After he fell, “he crawled to a car and hid behind it. We stopped a passing car for it to deliver him to a hospital for emergency help. We asked for traffic police officers who were close by for their help. One of them helped to drag your journalist and put him in a car.”
Currently RT’s stringer is fighting for his life in hospital, doctors say that he is in a serious condition and cannot be transported.
— Lizzie Phelan (@LizziePhelan) May 9, 2014
According to the city’s health officials, there was a gun battle in the center and at least 4 people have been hospitalized with gunshot wounds, local 0629.ua news website reports.
"About 1,500 people left the parade and went to the local interior ministry HQ. People in camouflage confronted them, shooting into the air using lethal weapons," a witness told Interfax.
— Lizzie Phelan (@LizziePhelan) May 9, 2014
The witness also stated that another group of city residents set a car tire on fire next to the city council building.
Earlier, self-defense forces in Mariupol reported that armed people had tried to seize the local city department of the Interior Ministry.
“Camouflaged people are storming the building of the city’s interior ministry department. A bus with soldiers has driven up – they are from a military unit located in the vicinity of Mariupol. Policemen who refuse to obey Kiev regime’s orders are being detained,” a representative of the self-defense forces told Interfax.
The self-defense forces also said that “policemen of the city department refused to obey Kiev’s orders and guard the building of the city council, which had been seized a day earlier by the Ukrainian security services. As a result, Kiev authorities decided to storm the building of the city Interior Ministry department, policemen are shooting back, the building is surrounded.”
— Daniel Demoustier (@dandemoustier) May 9, 2014
Self-defense forces say the government forces used heavy weaponry while storming the local branch of the Interior Ministry. “Armored vehicles approached the building and opened fire with heavy weapons. The building is old and has thick walls, so you can’t penetrate it with machine gun fire,” a representative of the self-defense forces told Interfax news agency.
“On the central street of the city, I saw tanks and armored vehicles with the Ukrainian flags at around 11.40 am [local time]. Then, the city residents started to gather near the city executive committee building. Then some of the protesters tried to go to the district department of interior, but it seemed that the Kiev regime military was beginning to shoot at those who attempted to approach. I don’t know if they were shooting to kill, but at their legs – that’s for sure,” local resident Grigory told RT.
— Sergey Osadchiy (@Sergey_Osadchiy) May 9, 2014
City streets are now on lockdown for transport and pedestrians, as armored vehicles are approaching from the airport outside the city.
"Yesterday we were told that some provocations were being prepared, but people didn't believe it, so a Victory Day parade was scheduled for 9am today," a local resident, who identified herself as Victoria, told RT.
Kiev’s National Guard used grenade launchers against police who earlier refused to shoot at unarmed civilians as the coup-appointed authorities ordered them to do, a representative of the local anti-fascist committee Pyotr Komissarov told RT.
“Earlier, the local police refused to shoot at civilians. [Kiev] called them traitors…Today, all police officers that didn’t ask for dismissal were attempted to be ‘executed’. Heavy military equipment was pulled into the city. They used small arms and rocket grenades, tanks fired from cannons at the police HQ building. The National Guard went to war with local police”
The attackers were “volunteers, mercenaries” from central and western parts of the country, he said. “They wage war for money so they are capable of doing everything. We saw these people, talked to them.”
“They shot at civilians” he stressed. “I saw several people killed,” Komissarov said adding that among the killed were police officers. Right Sector representatives were identified among the dead, he added.
The nationalists captured three police officers, he said. “We saw them tied up and sitting in the courtyard of the police HQ”, but later the people freed them.
Ukrainian MP Oleg Lyashko claims that forces loyal to the Kiev coup-installed government have orders “not to take anyone alive.” He wrote in his Facebook account that “the perimeter around the Interior Ministry department building in Mariupol is completely blocked by the armed forces. Terrorists are barricaded inside and are now returning fire. An order has been issued not to take anyone alive.”