Three separatists killed as Ukrainian troops repel attack on base: Minister

Three separatists killed as Ukrainian troops repel attack on base: Minister

MARIUPOL - Reuters
Three separatists killed as Ukrainian troops repel attack on base: Minister

A column of Ukrainian men riding on Armoured Personnel Carriers are blocked by pro-Russia supporters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on April 16. AFP Photo

Separatists attacked a base of the Ukrainian national guard in an eastern city overnight and, in shooting that ensued, three of them were killed, the interior minister said on April 17.

The minister, Arsen Avakov, said in a post on Facebook that an armed group of about 300 attacked the base in Mariupol on the Sea of Azov with guns and petrol bombs. National guard members first fired warning shots but then opened fire as the attack continued, Avakov said

"According to preliminary data, three attackers were killed, 13 wounded and 63 detained," Avakov said.

That would make the attack, which occurred on the eve of international four-way talks in Geneva on the crisis in Ukraine , the deadliest since separatist rebellions broke out in Russian-speaking eastern areas of Ukraine over 10 days ago.

No guardsmen were killed, Avakov said, but a major security sweep was underway in the area to detain other armed members of the group.

"Given the aggressive nature of the attack on the base, an interior ministry group has been strengthened by Omega special forces. Helicopters have been sent in," Avakov said.

Arms had been seized from the attackers as well as communications equipment, he said.

The Mariupol city administration was seized at the weekend by separatists. It was not known if it was still under their control.

Earlier, an interior ministry statement said armed protesters had arrived at the base on Wednesday night and demanded that the national guard troops back their revolt against the country's new pro-Western government.

Pro-Russian separatists have taken over buildings in at least 10 cities in eastern Ukraine, attacks which the Ukrainian government has said are orchestrated by Russian agents.

Russia says Kiev's claims special forces in east Ukraine 'resemble paranoia'  

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday dismissed claims by Ukrainian authorities that Moscow has dispatched elite special forces to east Ukraine to stir unrest, saying the allegations resemble paranoia.
"These statements resemble paranoia," Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "Instead of always looking for Moscow's hand (behind events), Kiev should stop calling residents of Ukraine's southeast 'separatists' and 'terrorists' and start constructive dialogue with them," he said.
"Regarding the statements about use of Russian special forces in Ukrainian events, I can only say one thing -- it's hard to search for a black cat in a dark room, especially if it's not there," he added.
However he then cryptically added that searching for the cat would be "stupid" if the cat is "intelligent, brave, and polite", in what could be seen as implicit confirmation of the claims.
The allegory is likely a reference to the moniker "polite people" to refer to troops who appeared in Crimea armed to the teeth in late February and surrounded government buildings and Ukrainian military bases.
Proponents of Crimea's annexation referred to the soldiers, who bore no chevrons but were widely known to be Russian troops, as "polite people" while those who opposed Russia's actions called them "little green men".