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Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong assault Monday on a key government base used to coordinate the defense of the country’s border with Russia, prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

Border guards killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack on their base, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

In the center of Luhansk, some six miles (10 kilometers) away, a blast at an administrative building held by the insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in what rebels described as a government airstrike.

The government denied carrying out an airstrike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it said was a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia also called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to introduce a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the violence and talks to establish a cease-fire. Moscow has almost daily demanded that the Kiev government halt its military operations in the east, but it was the first time it has called for a Security Council resolution. It was unclear how much support the proposal would have.

The rebel assault on the government base continued into the night, ending around 9 p.m. with the border guards succeeded in repelling the insurgents.

Earlier, rebels in camouflage had promised safe passage to the government troops if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

The attacks are deeply troubling for Ukraine’s new government, whose president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, has pledged to crush the separatist movement in the east. The conflict has escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in Monday’s attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later, he said. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces sent aircraft to the area, and at least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw about 40 rebel fighters, and one of them said that more than 200 were involved in the assault on the base.

At least one dead rebel fighter fell about a half-mile away from the base. Fellow insurgents approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the area, and rebel fighters fired at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the government base from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants surrounded the base and offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrendered their weapons.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

He said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, and threatened to detonate them if the government moved on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, meanwhile, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy, Valery Lapshin, told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists they were taking the editor in for questioning. He was released several hours later, Lapshin said.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Vladimir Isachenkov, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents mounted a daylong assault on a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building and prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a border guard service spokesman said.

Some 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, a blast at an administrative building held by insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in the incident, which rebels described as a government airstrike.

Authorities denied carrying out a strike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it described as a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

On the edge of Luhansk, in the Mirny district, rebels in camouflage promised safety for troops at a border guard service base if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press by telephone that a preliminary assessment indicated that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in the attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He also said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces had sent aircraft to the area, but had been unable to quell the attack. At least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw at least one dead rebel soldier about a kilometer (half-mile) away from the base. Fellow fighters approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

The fighting stopped around 1 p.m. local time but resumed a short while later with heavy gunfire heard in the area. Rebels shot at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the base compound from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants have surrounded the base but offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrender their weapons. Sevastopolsky is from a rebel group based in Antratsyt, another town in the Luhansk region.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

Fighting was still reportedly ongoing as darkness fell Monday.

Seleznyov also said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels had set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, which he claimed would be detonated if the government were to move on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Monday entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy Valery Lapshin told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists said they were taking the Vecherny Donetsk editor in for questioning. Lapshin said his editor was released several hours later.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian insurgents escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Monday a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and will involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine, and Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents mounted a daylong assault on a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building and prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a border guard service spokesman said.

Some 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, a blast at an administrative building held by insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in the incident, which rebels described as a government airstrike.

Authorities denied carrying out a strike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it described as a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

On the edge of Luhansk, in the Mirny district, rebels in camouflage promised safety for troops at a border guard service base if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press by telephone that a preliminary assessment indicated that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in the attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He also said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces had sent aircraft to the area, but had been unable to quell the attack. At least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw at least one dead rebel soldier about a kilometer (half-mile) away from the base. Fellow fighters approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

The fighting stopped around 1 p.m. local time but resumed a short while later with heavy gunfire heard in the area. Rebels shot at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the base compound from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants have surrounded the base but offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrender their weapons. Sevastopolsky is from a rebel group based in Antratsyt, another town in the Luhansk region.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

Fighting was still reportedly ongoing as darkness fell Monday.

Seleznyov also said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels had set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, which he claimed would be detonated if the government were to move on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Monday entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy Valery Lapshin told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists said they were taking the Vecherny Donetsk editor in for questioning. Lapshin said his editor was released several hours later.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian insurgents escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Monday a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and will involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine, and Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents mounted a daylong assault on a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building and prompting the deployment of air support by government forces.

At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a border guard service spokesman said.

Some 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, a blast at an administrative building held by insurgents claimed more lives. A health official for the Luhansk region told Interfax news agency that at least seven people had been confirmed dead in the incident, which rebels described as a government airstrike.

Authorities denied carrying out a strike and said the blast was caused by misdirected rebel fire from a portable surface-to-air missile launcher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry swiftly condemned what it described as a government attack on the rebel-held building and urged U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet, who was visiting Kiev on Monday, to help calm unrest in Ukraine.

“We urge our Western partners to use their influence on Kiev, to stop Ukraine from descending into a national catastrophe,” the ministry said in a statement.

On the edge of Luhansk, in the Mirny district, rebels in camouflage promised safety for troops at a border guard service base if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press by telephone that a preliminary assessment indicated that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in the attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He also said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces had sent aircraft to the area, but had been unable to quell the attack. At least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw at least one dead rebel soldier about a kilometer (half-mile) away from the base. Fellow fighters approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

The fighting stopped around 1 p.m. local time but resumed a short while later with heavy gunfire heard in the area. Rebels shot at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the base compound from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants have surrounded the base but offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrender their weapons. Sevastopolsky is from a rebel group based in Antratsyt, another town in the Luhansk region.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and told The Associated Press that the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

Fighting was still reportedly ongoing as darkness fell Monday.

Seleznyov also said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels had set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, which he claimed would be detonated if the government were to move on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Monday entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy Valery Lapshin told AP.

The gunmen told the journalists said they were taking the Vecherny Donetsk editor in for questioning. Lapshin said his editor was released several hours later.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater freedom from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement, as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian insurgents escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Monday a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and will involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine, and Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Pro-Russia rebels attack Ukrainian border guards

KDWN

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents attacked a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building. At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a spokesman for the border guard service said.

Rebels in uniform near the Luhansk base promised safety for the officers if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces.

Serhiy Astakhov, the spokesman for the border guard service, told The Associated Press by telephone that a preliminary assessment indicated that five rebels were killed and eight wounded in the attack on the walled compound on the western fringes of Luhansk, a major city not far from the Russian border. He also said seven servicemen were wounded, three seriously.

The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later. Astakhov said the Ukrainian armed forces had sent aircraft to the area, but had been unable to quell the attack. At least one fighter jet was seen flying overhead.

An AP reporter saw at least one dead rebel soldier about a kilometer (half-mile) away from the base. Fellow fighters approached and broke into tears as they viewed the body. One insurgent said the dead man was a leading rebel commander.

The fighting stopped around 1 p.m. local time but resumed a few hours later with heavy gunfire heard in the area. Rebels shot at least six rocket-propelled grenades at the compound from the rooftop of a residential building.

One insurgent fighter in uniform, who gave his name as Vlad Sevastopolsky, said pro-Russian militants have surrounded the base but offered Ukrainian troops a safe corridor out, as long as they surrender their weapons. Sevastopolsky is from a rebel group based in Antratsyt, another town in the Luhansk region.

Vladislav Seleznyov, press secretary for Ukraine’s operation against the rebels in the east, described the base as an important coordinating node for the border guards, and said the attack may have been an attempt to disrupt communications.

Seleznyov also said there was another rebel attack Monday on a government checkpoint in Slovyansk, a city in the Donetsk region that has been an epicenter of the pro-Russian movement. He said rebels had set mines at a number of power plants in Slovyansk, which he claimed would be detonated if the government were to move on the city.

In the regional capital of Donetsk, gunmen from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Monday entered the office of the local newspaper and took away its editor, Leonid Lapa, his deputy Valery Lapshin told AP. The gunmen said they were taking the Vecherny Donetsk editor in for questioning.

For weeks, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine has been the scene of deadly clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

Many in Ukraine’s east are suspicious of the new pro-Western government in Kiev, which came to power when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests in Kiev. Protests in the east demanding greater independence from the Ukrainian capital soon turned into a separatist movement as the Luhansk and Donetsk regions declared independence following hastily called referendums.

The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian insurgents escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Monday a military exercise involving the launch of high-precision missiles. The ministry said the maneuvers of the western military district will continue through Thursday and will involve the deployment of Iskander surface-to-surface missiles.

Moscow didn’t specify the areas where the exercise will be held and made no mention of the situation in Ukraine.

—-

Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine, and Vladimir Isachenkov and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.