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Fierce Battle Breaks Out At East Ukraine Airport

Ukraine's army clashed fiercely with rebels who seized the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk Monday.

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's army clashed fiercely with rebels who seized the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk Monday, sending explosions booming and smoke billowing across town as fighting continued through Monday afternoon.

Forces loyal to the self-proclaimed separatist "Donetsk People's Republic" seized the airport in the early morning, forcing all flights to be canceled, the airport's website said.

Вооруженные террористы прибыли в аэропорт для атаки на украинскую армию @ostro_v

Новости Донбасса@novostidnua

Вооруженные террористы прибыли в аэропорт для атаки на украинскую армию @ostro_v

8:20 AM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Not sure of source, but photo apparently shows separatist rebels atop #Donetsk airport terminal.

Christopher Miller@ChristopherJM

Not sure of source, but photo apparently shows separatist rebels atop #Donetsk airport terminal.

2:57 PM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The approximately 200 rebels drove up in trucks and were armed with an anti-aircraft missile launcher, Selezynov said.

Вооруженные террористы прибыли в аэропорт для атаки на украинскую армию @ostro_v

Новости Донбасса@novostidnua

Вооруженные террористы прибыли в аэропорт для атаки на украинскую армию @ostro_v

3:20 PM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Ukrainian fighters and helicopters then attacked the airport after an ultimatum to leave it expired at 1 p.m. local time, military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov wrote on Facebook.

#Донецк аэропорт. Над Донецком летают 2 истребителя и очень низко 4 боевых вертолета. Идет бой.

СЛАВЯНСК@Sloviansk

#Донецк аэропорт. Над Донецком летают 2 истребителя и очень низко 4 боевых вертолета. Идет бой.

1:57 PM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

A helicopter later destroyed the anti-aircraft launcher, Seleznyov wrote.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko, who claimed victory in Sunday's election after exit polls showed him with about 56% of the vote, has vowed to step up operations against the rebels, whom he accuses of trying to turn the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk into "Somalia." The rebel-occupied provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk were largely unable to vote after militia intimidated election workers into closing poll stations.

The rebels have stepped up their activity in the last week to maintain the initiative after local support for their efforts slipped. Russia, however, which Ukraine and Western countries have repeatedly accused of running the separatist movement, has cooled its support for them and expressed a newfound willingness to work with Ukraine's government.

Determining what exactly happened was difficult. Several reporters on the scene claimed to have seen at least one civilian killed by stray fire.

At least one of the rebels was wounded in the attack.

привезли раненного

Feldman@EvgenyFeldman

привезли раненного

3:36 PM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Smoke billowed across the city.

Донецк:Евро-ремонт начался с аэропорта.Стадия первая,выкуриваем тараканов.

Страшный БЭНДЕРовец@Realuran

Донецк:Евро-ремонт начался с аэропорта.Стадия первая,выкуриваем тараканов.

4:55 PM - 26 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71

Contact Max Seddon at max.seddon@buzzfeed.com.

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