Turmoil in Ukraine continues on Monday with hundreds of pro-Russian militants attacking a border command center near the city of Luhansk, and a Ukrainian fighter jet striking the city’s main regional building.
On June 2 at 00:30 local time, about 100 pro-Russian separatists began an attack on the border center, the Ukrainian Border Agency said. An estimated 400 more separatists later joined the militants, they added.
The attackers are using small-arms, machine-guns, mortars, sniper fire, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). A video posted on Youtube by the Border Agency shows the center being bombarded with gunfire. Multiple tracer rounds can be seen thanks to the darkness of the earlier hours, and a rocket hits the center, setting off the alarms of a red car.
Footage from later in the day shows a wounded man dragging himself across a road.
Neither of the videos can be independently confirmed.
The border guards have so far withstood the attack and have killed five separatists and wounded eight more. Seven guards have reportedly been wounded.
Two separatists trench-mortars were destroyed by a Ukrainian military aircraft, Anti-Terrorists Operation Speaker Vladyslav Selezniov said in a phone call with the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.
The Ukrainian Military has conducted operations against the separatists, who the Kiev authorities deem as “terrorists”, since April. Over 50 separatists were killed in an “anti-terrorists” operation at the Donetsk International Airport last week. Dozens of more separatists, and Ukrainian soldiers, have been killed in the operations.
A full-scale air attack against the separatists is “impossible” because they are attacking from residential districts in Luhansk, Mr. Selezniov added.
There has also been reports of civilians being near the combat zone.
Mr. Selezniov warned civilians of the danger of being near the area, and promised that the ATO “will never apply force against civilians”.
One video shows residents of Luhansk fleeing as the border guards and separatists exchange gunfire.
Air Strike on Luhank’s Regional Building
Along with attack from separatists in Luhansk, the city’s main regional building was struck in an airstrike by what appears to be a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet.
Multiple videos of the airstrike have been uploaded to Youtube.
In one particular video, a white car driving along a road avoids being hit in the airstrike by just a mere second. Following the strike, residents are seen immediately fleeing the area, or running for cover or going to help the wounded.
A different video shows the jet firing its missiles at the building.
Footage from RT News Agency shows the graphic aftermath of the strike. Several dead bodies and wounded civilians are shown laying on the ground. One woman’s leg has been sliced into three, the skin just barely keeping the parts connected The road is covered in debris. First responders and medical personnel rush to save the wounded. CPR is seen being applied to a man who is struggling to stay alive. His fate is unknown. Another woman lays on the road, struggling to breath, her face ripped covered in blood and wounds. Some of the wounded are alive–at least for now–, others aren’t so fortunate.
Another video posted by pro-Russian militants shows the damage done to the Regional Building: A large crater is in the top left of the building and the windows have shattered from the force of the explosions. Tires from barricades are strewn and blood splattered in front of the entrance. Three rebels move a dead body from the blood covered ramp leading to the font doors.
Inside the building, rooms on the upper floor are damaged, some drastically more than others.
For the past several months Ukraine has faced an internal crisis that threatens to tear the country apart.
In November 2013, protesters took to the streets of Ukraine’s capital Kiev, to protests against the former presidents who favored for closer ties with Russia over ones with the European Union.
When former-President Viktor Yanukovych passed anti-protest laws, the protests turned violent, leading to the apocalyptic scenes in Maidan of protesters clashing with police.
The protests turned bloody and resulted in over 100 deaths, and led to the ouster of Mr. Yanukovych, who reportedly fled to Russia. A interim government then took office.
Shortly thereafter, the largely ethnic Russian region Crimea held a referendum on secession and was later annexed by Russian in March 2014.
Following the peninsula’s annexation, pro-Russian activists in the east and southern regions of Ukraine rose up against the interim government and demanded greater autonomy.
When their requests were denied, the pro-Russian separatists took up arms against the Ukrainian military, which has escalated since into the current crisis.
Newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko has promised to crush the rebellion and bring peace and stability to the country.