1 Dead, Others Wounded in Russia-Ukraine Gun Battle

Each side blames the other for starting it

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Apr 20, 2014 4:00 PM CDT | Updated Apr 20, 2014 4:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ukraine and Russia traded blame today for a shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine that left one person dead and others hospitalized with gunshot wounds. The identity of the attackers remained unclear. Russia blamed militant Ukrainian nationalists and the Ukrainian government said the attack near the city of Slovyansk was staged by provocateurs from outside the country.

The head of a pro-Russia unit in the village of Bylbasivka said the fight started when unknown men drove up in four vehicles and opened fire about 3am, while Ukraine's Security Service called the attack a "cynical provocation" staged from "the outside." The armed clash appeared to be the first since an international agreement was reached last week in Geneva to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia activists have seized government buildings in at least 10 cities. Ukraine and many in the West fear that such clashes could provide a pretext for Russia to seize more Ukrainian territory. Click for more on the story.

Pro-Russian gunmen control a road after a night fight at the check point which is under the control of pro-Russian activists in the village of Bulbasika, Ukraine, Sunday, April 20, 2014.   (Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian gunman controls a road after a night fight at the check point which is under the control of pro-Russian activists in the village of Bulbasika, Ukraine, Sunday, April 20, 2014.   (Efrem Lukatsky)
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