Five Killed in Eastern Ukraine as Clashes Continue
At least five people have reportedly been killed in Slaviansk Sunday morning, after Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian demonstrators clashed in another skirmish overnight. Russian Times places the death toll at six thus far.
Slaviansk, a town in eastern Ukraine which has been seized by armed pro-Russian protestors, has been a flashpoint for clashes over the past week.
Ukrainian officials did not confirm the deaths, and details of the incident remain murky.
Russian media claims the incident occurred near a checkpoint or seized by the separatists and that, of the deaths, three were separatists and two were Ukrainian nationals who "attacked" the checkpoint.
However, Reuters reports later Sunday that journalists have confirmed at least two bodies seen at the sight - one with gunshot wounds to the head and face. One was wearing civilian clothing and one was in military fatigues, the witness said.
Hours earlier, Ukrainian officials had announced a break from the operation to oust the protestors from seized government buildings, in a move acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia linked to both the Easter holiday and the need to buy more time for European Union (EU) monitors to work out a solution with Ukraine and Russia.
Eastern Ukraine has been the seat of pro-Russian tensions since earlier this month, when neighboring Crimea held a controversial referendum vote and was annexed by Moscow after a de facto military invasion of the region.
A landmark deal reached Thursday night between Russia, the US and the European Union (EU) called for the separatists, who have been seizing government buildings in eastern Ukraine for several days, to disarm and stand down - in exchange for amnesty.
The pro-Russian protestors have largely ignored the deal, however, claiming early Friday that the agreement does not apply to them.