Ukraine Troops Kill Mariupol Civilians; US Blames Victims
May 10, 2014
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Andrew E. Kramer / The New York Times
Heavily armed troops under orders from Kiev and backed by tanks and APCs arrived in Maripol to retake the protester-held Interior Ministry building. while arresting local police who refused to side with them against the population. The invading troops killed at least 20 people -- mostly unarmed civilians -- and left massive numbers wounded. The invading soldiers also rounded up and arrested local police who refused to side with them against the population.
Ukraine Troops Kill 20 in Mariupol, Blow Up Police Station
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2014) -- While most of Ukraine's military's major operations against the east have come in the northern part of Donetsk Oblast, today's attacks focused on the south, and the key port city of Mariupol, where at least 20 people have been reported killed, and massive numbers wounded.
Interior Ministry troops, backed by tanks and APCs, are trying to retake the protester-held Interior Ministry building in town, while arresting local police who refused to side with them against the population.
Retaking the ministry building seems to be job one, but instead of worrying about that with a protester-held police station, the troops simply blew it up with rocket-propelled grenades, leveling the building, killing seven within, and wounding dozens.
Though the government dubbed all those killed "terrorists," many of the people shot in the streets seem to have been unarmed civilian protesters. RT's cameraman for the city, taking pictures of the chaos, was also shot in the chest, and despite wearing a bulletproof vest was badly wounded.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov demanded the civilian population immediately endorse the invasion,. saying the situation was "black and white" and that foes could expect "only one answer from the Ukrainian state -- annihilation."
State Dept Blames Protesters for Getting Attacked by Ukraine Military
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2014) -- The US State Department responded to Ukraine's military assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol today with a statement condemning the protesters that were killed by Ukraine's invading tanks for "jeopardizing public order."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted the violence was caused by "pro-Russian separatists" and insisted that their protesters were being carried out "in violation of Ukrainian law."
Though some of the protesters are indeed separatists, much of the movement in the east is simply seeking increased autonomy and guarantees of the rights of the ethnic Russian minority that dominates the east.
The State Department demanded that the protesters immediately disarm and abandon all public buildings to the incoming Ukrainian military, following this up with a call for Russia to similarly demand an end to all public protests in Ukraine's east.
Ukrainian Forces Attack Militant-Held Police Station
Andrew E. Kramer / The New York Times
MARIUPOL, Ukraine (May 9. 2014) -- Ukrainian security forces in armored vehicles attacked a police station here on Friday, reducing the building to smoldering rubble and killing at least seven people, according to residents who say they witnessed the assault.
The attack signaled what appeared to be a major escalation in the interim government's fight with pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, and came two days after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia urged that the separatists delay a referendum scheduled for Sunday and that all sides settle their differences through dialogue.
Hours after the assault, two bodies were still lying in the street, possibly victims of gunfire leveled by security forces against a crowd that broke away from a pro-Russian Victory Day march to lend support to mutinous police officers, residents said.
The death toll in Mariupol, a city of about 500,000, was expected to rise as rescue workers gained access to the police station, which exploded in flames. Hospital officials said they were treating 40 people for gunshot wounds and had sent five bodies to morgues, according to a Human Rights Watch researcher who had canvassed hospitals. The Kiev government said 20 rebels and one soldier had died.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian Army units have taken up positions outside many of the cities in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian militants have seized buildings and proclaimed an independent Donetsk People's Republic. In that time, they attacked a few rebel-held checkpoints, but until Friday had not undertaken a frontal assault on any of the buildings held by the separatists.
Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote on Facebook that about 60 pro-Russian militants had tried to seize the city's police headquarters. The police called for support from the Ukrainian national guard, a newly formed force of quickly trained volunteers drawn from participants in last winter's street protests in the capital. Mr. Avakov wrote that 20 "terrorists" had died in the fighting, while those who survived dispersed and hid in a residential neighborhood.
The national guard, though, pulled out of the city soon afterward, abandoning an armored personnel carrier that had apparently broken down and that was soon swarming with pro-Russian men trying to fix the engine. There were no police in sight.
Residents who had gathered around the police station offered an account that differed from the interior minister's. The city police, they said, were sympathetic to the pro-Russian side and had mutinied against an out-of-town chief newly installed by the interim government in Kiev.
Armored vehicles had driven into the city to confront the rebellious police, not the militants, residents said. Holes in the brick wall suggested heavy weaponry. Gunfire echoed downtown.
Anton Savchenko, 30, a factory mechanic, was in the group in the Victory Day parade marching toward a World War II monument, the Soldier Liberator, that then ran toward the police station after the fighting began.
Rounding a corner, Mr. Savchenko said, a bullet grazed his ear. Hours later, he was still wandering about, dazed, showing the minor wound to anybody who cared to look. "I was born again today," he said. "This is my second birthday."
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