KIEV (AFP) - Pro-Kremlin rebels, who the West say are backed by Moscow, are holding more than a dozen towns and cities in east Ukraine.The places where the insurgents are most active are:
SlavyanskThe epicentre of rebel activity and the scene of much of the reported violence and abductions. On April 12, pro-Russian gunmen seized the police building in this town of an estimated 160,000 people, raiding its arsenal. They then took over the town hall and the SBU security services building the same day. The interior ministry in Kiev estimates 30-50 Ukrainian security services personnel are held there.
DonetskThis city of one million people is the hub of the Donetsk region, which includes Slavyansk, and is the heart of what rebels call their “Donetsk Republic”. The regional administrative building was seized April 6 and the city hall on April 16. Violent scenes on April 28 when men armed with knives, baseball bats and iron bars attacked a pro-Kiev rally. Pro-Russian demonstrators took over the SBU building without resistance on May 3.
Lugansk This city of 465,000 inhabitants, which is also the regional heart of the Lugansk region, is proclaiming itself the core of a self-styled “Lugansk Republic”. Its SBU security services building was grabbed on April 6 by some 1,000 pro-Russian protesters. On April 29, a crowd of hundreds, with gunmen leading, took over the regional administrative building, prosecutor’s office and local television station. They laid siege to regional police headquarters but withdrew when the police chief agreed to resign. On May 2, rebels left the prosecutor’s office.
KramatorskJust next to Slavyansk and 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Donetsk, this town of 160,000 inhabitants saw its town hall taken over on April 12 during a rally by more than 1,000 pro-Russian demonstrators. On April 15, a bomb alert that turned out to be false cleared the building, but militants took over the nearby SBU building. On April 21, pro-Russian militants forcibly took back the town hall. A Ukraine military base lies outside the town and has fended off several attacks. The military took back the TV tower and the SBU building on May 3.
Other towns:- Gorlivka (also known as Horlivka), with a population of 260,000, saw a local police building seized on April 14. On April 30, militants grabbed its regional police department and the town hall.
- Makiivka, close to Donetsk and with 360,000 inhabitants, had its town hall taken over April 13.
- Alchevsk, population 120,000, had its town hall occupied by militants on April 30 without resistance.
- Artemivsk, population 78,000, had its town hall occupied by pro-Russian activists on April 12.
- Yenakieve, population 85,000, saw the police and prosecutor’s offices taken over on April 13.
- Khartsyzk, 60,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 14.
- Zhdanivka, 14,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 14.
- Kirovske, 28,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 14.
- Torez, 80,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 15.
- Kostyantynivka, 80,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 28.
- Pervomaisk, 40,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on April 29.
- Stakhanov, 90,000 inhabitants: Town hall seized on May 2.