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15 killed in eastern Ukraine's Sloviansk after OSCE observers' departure

Fifteen people were killed as a result of clashes between radicals and the supporters of federalization in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk after the departure of military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Saturday, May 3.

A representative of the city's self-defense forces said that of the 15 killed persons only four were armed while the remaining 11 were peaceful citizens. Policemen believe that militants from the ultranationalist Right Sector "could have provoked a new round of hostilities".

The OSCE observers, detained in Sloviansk on April 25, were released on May 3 with the assistance of the Russian president's special envoy Vladimir Lukin, who took them out of the city and handed them over to Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland and representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. After that they headed to Donetsk wherefrom they will go to their respective home countries.

Meanwhile, in the village of Andreyevka, on the outskirts of Sloviansk, Right sector militants staged a bloodbath, killing ten people and wounding 40.

Sloviansk's people's mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev said the accident was not combat in the direct meaning of the word. Extremists opened fire at unarmed people not at a roadblock but on a road in the middle of the village. "People blocked the way to the Right Sector column and tried to talk with the militants. In reply, they got automatic gunfire," he said.

Earlier reports said that the villagers had tried to prevent Right Sector gunmen from going towards Sloviansk, a scene of fierce fighting between policemen and the Ukrainian regular army units, and formed a living chain across the road to stop trucks and armored personnel carriers.

The villagers were said to have come to agreement with the gunmen who were supposed to fire their ammunition into the air and leave. However after several bursts of fire into the air the gunmen turned their weapons against the unarmed people.

Initial reports said that one person had been killed and several dozen wounded. Later, the number of casualties increased.

The Right Sector did not allow villagers to pick up the wounded and opened fire at anyone who tried to approach them.

Stepan Poltorak, commander of Ukraine's National Guard, said two servicemen had been killed and 12 wounded in the clashes. He also claimed that engineering troops had cleared a viaduct of mines on the eastern outskirts of Sloviansk.

Vasily Krutov, deputy head of Ukraine's Security Service, said law enforcers were controlling the outer boundaries of the city and key highways and had set up 14 roadblocks around the city.

[Source: Itar Tass, Loviansk, 03May14]

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