KIEV : Six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a rebel ambush in the restive east of the country on Tuesday, the defence ministry said, one of the deadliest days for the military since the start of an uprising in the region against Kiev’s rule.
A military convoy was attacked near a river in a village between the rebel bastions of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk by a group of about 30 men who fired heavy weapons including grenade launchers, the ministry said. The troops responded, triggering “prolonged clashes” that left six soldiers dead and eight wounded, it said.
Meanwhile, separatists in eastern Ukraine claimed that the self-styled governor of the rebel-held Lugansk region survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday, two days after the region held a referendum on self rule.
The rebel official, Valery Bolotov, was wounded when unidentified assailants shot at his car, a spokesman for the rebels told reporters. “They shot with automatic weapons,” the spokesman Vasily Nikitin said, adding that Bolotov was hospitalised. “He lost a lot of blood but everything is fine now. His life is not in danger.”
AFP was unable to independently verify the claim. On Sunday, the Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk held self-rule referendums, with rebels claiming that an overwhelming majority chose to split from Ukraine.
Nikitin, the spokesman for the “Lugansk People’s Republic”, blamed central Kiev authorities for the shooting. “We believe that the assassination attempt on Bolotov is Kiev’s response to our referendum,” he said.