SELF-DEFENCE forces in eastern Ukraine have shot down two military helicopters near the city of Slavyansk.
One was carrying fourteen soldiers including an army general. This happened as self-defence fighters and forces that support the right-wing Kiev coup continued fierce battles in the east of the country.
The coupist ‘interim president’, Oleksandr Turchynov, told parliament on Thursday: ‘I have just received information that terrorists using Russian anti-aircraft missiles shot down our helicopter. It had been ferrying servicemen for a change of duty.’
A self-defence spokesman had earlier told Russian news agencies that the militants had downed a Ukrainian army helicopter in a fierce battle that was still raging on the southern outskirts of the rebel-controlled city.
The unnamed spokesman said that ‘as a result of active military activities, several houses belonging to civilians caught fire’. Slavyansk has seen fierce fighting between local workers and Kiev coupist forces in recent weeks
Coupist ‘president’ Petro Poroshenko has vowed to tackle the uprising in eastern Ukraine, saying he would deal firmly with what he calls ‘bandits’ and ‘murderers’, and ‘scum that were there from all over the Soviet Union’.
There has been an upsurge in the conflict since Poroshenko’s ‘election’ on Sunday. The Donetsk self-defence forces say that lost 50 volunteers and the same number of civilians were killed when the area around Donetsk airport was attacked by jet fighters and helicopter gunships.
Meanwhile, all of the 80 Ukrainian troops manning a Lugansk military base have been forced to surrender to self-defence forces who stormed the military installation hosting the Ukrainian National Guard.
The initial assault lasted for 10-15 minutes with almost unceasing gunfire, witnesses say. There are conflicting reports on casualties and the outcome of the attack, which took place on the territory of an Air Force academy.
Earlier, at least one Ukrainian soldier was reported to be seriously injured. One self-defence fighter was killed in the gunfight and there have been several injures on both sides. All of the 80 Ukrainian soldiers were escorted out of the building as the other side applauded.
Self-defence commander Gennady Tsepkalo also confirmed to journalists that all the troops have surrendered. He promised that all soldiers will be sent home shortly. These events come as Kiev has intensified military operations in eastern Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Kiev mortar shells hit a school and a kindergarten in Slavyansk, injuring at least nine civilians.