According to breaking reports a targeted blast has killed Ukraine’s most prominent separatist leader in what appears a high level assassination under mysterious circumstances. The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, was reportedly at a cafe in central Donetsk city in eastern Ukraine when an explosion of as yet unknown origin went off, killing Zakharchenko and injuring several other top separatist officials.
Local reports say that Zakharchenko was still alive at the scene, but died of his severe injuries after arriving an an area hospital.
A group of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s leaders were gathered at ‘Separ’ — a well-known restaurant and cafe in the city center.
A spokesperson for the breakaway Ukrainian region confirmed his death and called it a “terrorist attack”.
“The head of the DNR, Alenksandr Zakharchenko, has died as a result of a terrorist act,” a spokesperson of the self-proclaimed republic’s administration told journalists, though revealed no further details of the incident.
A US broadcaster has further cited local officials to report that another separatist figure, the movement’s “finance minister” Aleksandr Timofeyev, was injured in the blast at the Separ (Separatist) cafe.
Donetsk sources have yet to assign blame; however, the breakaway region in eastern Ukraine have been at war with forces loyal to the Ukrainian government in Kiev since 2014.
The heavily-armed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have waged what they say is a war for independence and have refused the the Ukrainian government in Kiev. One senior Donetsk rebel, Vladislav Berdichevsky, told Interfax news agency: “According to preliminary information, it is unfortunately true. The republic’s leader suffered a fatal wound.”
Local journalists and news sources circulated images of what appeared to be the blast site on social media.
— Донецк Таймс (@timesdnua) August 31, 2018
And predictably, Russia’s Foreign Ministry immediately pointed the finger at Ukrainian authorities for the attack, saying Kiev had decided to engage in a “bloody fight.”
But Ukrainian security officials countered that it appears to be the work of “terrorists and their Russian sponsors.”
Lately the separatist movement has undergone internal fighting and rivalries, with several leaders reportedly having fled the region while citing unconfirmed threats by former comrades.