Donetsk café bomb attack kills pro-Russian rebel leader

Donetsk café bomb attack kills pro-Russian rebel leader

Mr Zakharchenko, 42, had been leader since 2014, the year that parts of eastern Ukraine dominated by Russian Federation seceded, leading to a bloody struggle with government troops that continues sporadically today.

Fighting fell off significantly after the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in 2015 signed an accord in Minsk, Belarus, on ending the violence.

Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko attends a news conference in Donetsk, Ukraine August 11, 2014.

But since then the agreement's provisions have remained unfulfilled, with regular clashes in which each side accuses the other of violating the ceasefire.

Denying a rebel claim of increased military activity by Kiev's forces, an officer in Ukraine's Joint Forces Operation said: "Everything is operating in a routine fashion.

The explosion also wounded Alexander Timofeyev, the DPR's finance minister.

DNR officials told the news agency Interfax that they have already apprehended several suspects ("Ukrainian saboteurs and related persons") who were discovered in a nearby auto.

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The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, blamed the Ukrainian government, saying that "there is every reason to suggest that the Kyiv regime stands behind this murder".

Cossack supporters blamed Russian government-backed forces for several assassinations and attacks, lending credence to the idea that Russia has used targeted killings to retain control over local militias in eastern Ukraine. All the checkpoints on the border "DNR" from Russian Federation and Ukraine overlapped to search for the suspect.

In February 2017 rebel commander Givi (real name Mikhail Tolstykh) was killed by a rocket that was sacked into his office. Russian Federation is believed to have supplied a mobile Buk missile launcher that a team of global investigators claims shot down a Malaysian passenger jet while flying over rebel territory in 2014, killing all 209 people aboard.

Bednov was a senior commander in the Luhansk People's Republic, another eastern Ukrainian breakaway region that neighbors Donetsk.

The two became the most recognizable faces among the separatists and were frequently interviewed by Russian state television channels.

The conflict erupted simultaneously with the Russian annexation of Crimea. "Having failed to fulfil the promise of peace, curiously they determined to flip to a bloodbath".

Yuras Karmanau in Minsk, Belarus, contributed.

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