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Fatalities as Kiev's military 'reclaim' first eastern city

Published time: June 13, 2014 18:59
Ukrainian troops riding on the back of a truck gesture to local residents gathered near the site of fighting in the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol June 13, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Ukrainian troops riding on the back of a truck gesture to local residents gathered near the site of fighting in the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol June 13, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

The city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine has seen fierce fighting, with casualties reported as the National Guard attacked the self-defense forces' headquarters. Kiev says the city, part of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has been reclaimed.

Read more: ‘Bombardment never stops’: E. Ukrainian refugees share horrors of Kiev military op

There are conflicting reports in local media about the number of self-defense troops killed in the coastal city, which is home to over 480,000 people. Media outlets reported that between five and seven people were killed. The Donetsk city administration said that one was killed and five others were injured.

Ukrainian Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page that three people were killed, 17 were injured, and 41 people were detained.

People are currently being treated in the local hospital, a resident told RT over the phone.

The National Guard attacked the city early Friday morning as part of Kiev’s punitive operation against the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

At about 4:30 a.m. we heard loud noises and shooting from the center of the city,” a local resident told RT. “Two self-defense headquarters were located in the city center – one belonging to militia and the other to the DPR’s administration. Military operations started near them, shooting and explosions were heard. The explosions continued until 7 a.m. (local time), probably. Then they became quieter.”

“Currently the National Guard has left the city,” she said, adding that police circled what was left of the self-defense headquarters and barricades in the city center.

The attackers were “people in black uniforms with white armlets...armed with machine guns,” another resident who witnessed the military operation told RT.

Following the attack, newly elected President Petro Poroshenko ordered the head of the Donetsk region’s administration and businessman Sergey Taruta to temporarily transfer the headquarters of the region’s administration to the port city of Mariupol, freed from self-defense activists.

The Kiev controlled regional administration is to start its work in Mariupol from Friday, Poroshenko said.

Currently the city is under Kiev’s control, an assistant within Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said.

Today Ukrainian flags were hoisted on all administrative buildings in Mariupol,” Anton Geraschenko said at a press conference in Kiev on Friday.

Kiev’s punitive operation against Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which proclaimed themselves independent people’s republics following regional referendums, has been ongoing since April. Kiev’s military operations have intensified in the past few weeks.

Grad launched in eastern Ukraine

On Thursday, the city of Dobropolya in Donetsk Region was shelled by Grad multiple rocket launchers.

One person died and another was injured at around 7:30 a.m. local time (04:30 GMT). Several shells were fired at the city, said the head of the Dobropolsky district, Oleg Kravchuk, in a video address on Friday. The video address was published on a community page of the city, on VKontakte social network.

The shelling hit a vegetable warehouse which is still on fire, he added.

“This happened as a group of people, terrorists, hijacked Grad multiple launchers and in the region of Mertsalovo Station fired at our city,” Kravchuk said. “Then something went wrong, they failed to do everything they wanted, they left the installations, mined them, and fled.”

WARNING: GRAPHICVIDEO

One of the main targets of Kiev’s artillery attacks has been the city of Slavyansk, which has a population over 100,000 people. The Ukrainian military has been shelling not only checkpoints controlled by self-defense forces, but also residential areas. Residents are hiding in cellars without electricity and water, with no chance to evacuate the besieged city. On Thursday, residents of Slavyansk and its suburbs were awoken overnight by what they say were incendiary bombsincendiary bombs that were dropped on their city by Kiev’s military. Media reports suggested that the bombs might be phosphorous.