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Ukraine wages deadly assault on rebels as fear of war grows

Published on May 6, 2014 6:02 AM
 

SLAVYANSK, Ukraine (AFP) - Ukraine’s military suffered heavy casualties in a stepped-up offensive on pro-Russian rebels on Monday, as Europe and the head of the UN made a last-ditch diplomatic effort to reel the country back from the brink of civil war.

At least four Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 30 injured battling heavily armed insurgents around the flashpoint eastern town of Slavyansk as Russia warned the violence was putting peace in Europe in peril.

The interior ministry in Kiev said the pro-Russian gunmen controlling the town were using civilians as human shields and shooting from houses, some of which were ablaze.

“They are waging a war on us, on our own territory... my mission is to eliminate the terrorists,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told reporters near Slavyansk, from where he was overseeing the assault.

A Ukrainian soldier stands beside a tank as guards a checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on May 5, 2014. Ukraine’s military suffered heavy casualties in a stepped-up offensive on pro-Russian rebels on Monday, as Europe and the head of the UN made a last-ditch diplomatic effort to reel the country back from the brink of civil war. -- PHOTO: AFP
 
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