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Ukraine Interior Minister Says Slavyansk Encircled

By Novosti Donbassa

The Ukrainian security forces have tightly encircled Slavyansk, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reports on his Facebook page.

“At 04:30 [on May 2], the active phase of the counter-terrorism operation began in the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk area. Interior ministry, National Guard and armed forces units are involved,” Avakov said. “At present, nine terrorist checkpoints on Slavyansk’s outer limits have been captured. The town is tightly encircled. The terrorists have opened fire on Ukrainian units with heavy weapons including grenade launchers and mobile anti-aircraft missile systems. One pilot [of a downed helicopter] has died and a number of people have been injured.

“A real battle against professional mercenaries is under way. The terrorists are unashamedly opening fire using Slavyansk civilians from multi-storey apartment blocks as cover. They are aware of the order given to units involved in the counter-terrorism operation not to fire back if there is a danger to residential buildings. I would ask residents of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk not to go out and to exercise caution near windows.

“I am here with the defence minister and the head of the National Guard. Rail traffic in the counter-terrorism operation zone will shortly be halted. Traffic on roads around Slavyansk has been reduced to the minimum. I would ask everyone to avoid travel for the duration of the counter-terrorism operation. We are working. Thanks and honour to all the soldiers and officers.” 

This article republished from Novosti Donbassa with kind permission.

Original article in Russian.