Ukraine says hundreds of armed militants have crossed border from Russia

McClatchy reports: The Ukrainian army said Tuesday that it had evicted armed separatists from the international airport in Donetsk after a 24-hour gun battle, but the government in Kiev warned of a new threat as truckloads of armed Russian volunteers reportedly crossed the border.

Donetsk Mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko said 48 people were killed, including two civilians, in the fighting at Sergei Prokofiev International Airport.

The pro-Russian rebels said they had suffered more than 50 fatalities, many of them the result of an army attack on a truck evacuating wounded. A government spokesman said the incident was under investigation.

Shots still were being fired near the airport Tuesday afternoon, and it wasn’t clear when the facility would reopen. If the Ukraine military has cleared the facility of insurgents, it would mark a rare and swift success for a force that repeatedly has failed to dislodge separatists from city halls and police stations in eastern Ukraine.

The unity of Ukraine is riding on how the government handles the separatist uprising in the east, the latest installment of which began at 3 a.m. Monday, just hours after the conclusion of national elections that installed candy billionaire Petro Poroshenko as president. Dozens of armed insurgents of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic stormed the airport terminal, closed it to passenger traffic and then sent in a truckload of reinforcements. [Continue reading…]

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