Four Anti-Government Militias Seized Friday

World Today

Violence escalated in the eastern town of Slavyansk. That’s where anti-government militants shot down two Ukrainian helicopters. At least two people were killed. Militias are trying to stop Ukrainian forces from entering the town.CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports from Slavyansk.

4 Anti-Government Militias Seized Friday

4 Anti-Government Militias Seized Friday

Violence escalated in the eastern town of Slavyansk. That's where anti-government militants shot down two Ukrainian helicopters. At least two people were killed. Militias are trying to stop Ukrainian forces from entering the town.CCTV's Kate Parkinson reports from Slavyansk.

The self-proclaimed mayor of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, made a YouTube video earlier today telling women, children and the elders to stay inside and men with weapons to help defend the city.

Vyacheslav Ponomarev says in the video: “Good afternoon dear citizens of Slovyansk. I would like to address you to say that our town has been attacked, our town is being stormed and there are casualties already. I’m asking for children, women and elderly people to stay at home and for men with weapons to help. I think we will defend our town. Thank you for your attention, thank you for your help, we will win.”

Ponomarev sounds confident but clearly looks nervous. The anti-government militias have been expecting this since Kiev authorities first launched their so called “anti-terrorist operation” just over two weeks ago and even though the militias still control most of the city they must certainly be feeling the Ukrainian armed forces are closing in on them.

Meanwhile, villagers are trying to stop Ukrainian forces from entering the eastern town of Slavyansk.

Ukrainian Forces Closing in on Slavyansk

Ukrainian Forces Closing in on Slavyansk

Tensions are continuing to run high in the eastern town of Slavyansk. Anti-government militias shot down two Ukrainian helicopters, killing the pilots. Villagers are trying to stop Ukrainian forces from entering the town. CCTV's Kate Parkinson reports from Slavyansk.

Ukraine’s long simmering conflict escalated sharply on Friday as armed forces launched an assault on the anti-government militia stronghold of Slavyansk.

The military action focused on the city’s perimeter-at this checkpoint, six kilometers northwest of Slavyansk, Ukraine’s armed forces took over a checkpoint previously manned by supports for the eastern militia.

Although the Ukrainian armed have clearly blocked the route and their presence here is certainly being felt it’s not clear at this stage whether they will continue to advance into Slavyansk.

Local residents, many of whom support the pro-independence uprising that has swept across the east of the country in recent weeks, shout at the soldiers: “we are civilians, not terrorists!”

Natasha, a Local Resident says: “My child is afraid to go out my child is afraid to go out into the street. I can’t get to work today soon I will have nothing to eat because we are blocked. Our shops are not open. What are we supposed to do? We tried to talk to them but they don’t talk to us. They provoke us. They attack us and we just stand here, we don’t have any weapons… they have weapons.”

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the eastern militia shot down two attack helicopters during Friday’s attack, adding that two crew members had been killed and others wounded.

The militia said they had taken one person prisoner. This footage – filmed by a Russian television channel – purports to show a Ukrainian serviceman, now in the hands of masked gunmen.

Kiev said earlier on Friday that it controls half of Slavyansk, but by early evening there was no sign of Ukraine’s armed forces in the city center where eastern militia groups are still firmly in control.

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