CNN asks for release of journalist abducted by separatists in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AFP) - CNN said on Thursday a Ukrainian journalist working for the US news channel had been abducted this week by pro-Russian separatists, and appealed for his release.

On its website, CNN said journalist Anton Skiba was taken on Tuesday by armed men from the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic.

Skiba had been working as a freelancer with a CNN crew covering the crisis in Ukraine.

CNN said it did not report the abduction at the time while making efforts to obtain his release. But since those efforts failed, CNN said it was publicly appealing for Skiba's release.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Skiba was among at least two journalists abducted after the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic banned the news media from the conflict area. Two others are believed missing.

"Abductions and detentions of journalists and other violations of press freedom are happening at dizzying speed in eastern Ukraine," CPJ's Nina Ognianova said.

"We call on all sides in the conflict to immediately release any journalists in their custody and halt all attempts to censor, obstruct, and intimidate the media."

Ukrainian forces have laid siege to the rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk in south-east Ukraine, capturing some villages and towns in recent days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused by Kiev and the West of arming the rebels in the region where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed last week.