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East Ukraine Separatist Leader Killed in Cafe Blast

East Ukraine Separatist Leader Killed in Cafe BlastEast Ukraine Separatist Leader Killed in Cafe Blast

The main separatist leader in eastern Ukraine was killed in a bombing at a cafe in the center of Donetsk on Friday, becoming the most prominent victim from the Moscow-backed side in the four-year conflict.

Russia swiftly blamed Ukraine for the killing of Alexander Zakharchenko, who is the highest level victim in a series of killings of separatist politicians and commanders since the conflict began in 2014.

“The head of the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic], Alexander Zakharchenko, has died as the result of a terrorist attack today,” Zakharchenko’s spokeswoman Alena Volynets told AFP.

The official website of the DNR said an explosion went off in the “Separ” cafe at 1430 GMT, which it said injured three others.

An AFP journalist at the scene said police had cordoned off the block where the blast occurred.

Zakharchenko, 42, who commanded the group fighting Ukrainian government forces in the mining and industrial town of Donetsk, was elected first president of the republic in 2014. He said at the time his ambition was to build “a new state”.

A deputy chairman of the government Dmitry Trapeznikov has been appointed acting head of the republic during an emergency meeting.

Separatist forces were put on alert as the DNR authorities launched a special operation aimed at finding those responsible for the blast that has also left three people wounded including one high-ranking official.

Moscow and the rebel regions blame the murders on Kiev. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Zakharchenko’s family and friends.

 

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