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Several wounded as pro-Moscow militants attack Ukraine rally

DONETSK, Ukraine: Fourteen people were wounded on Monday when pro-Russian militants wielding baseball bats, iron bars and knives attacked a rally for national unity in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk, according to journalists and local authorities.

Those hurt in the bloody assault were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Donetsk, one of a dozen cities where pro-Kremlin separatists have taken over public buildings and reject Kiev's authority.

One Ukrainian journalist in a hospital trauma unit, Yevgen Shibalov, 32, was hit in the head with a brick.

He told AFP that the demonstration was initially attacked by masked men in uniforms without insignia who pelted them with bricks and fireworks.

Another group "then rushed in and attacked with baseball bats," he said.

"There were several dozen police there. They didn't arrest anyone, though they tried to place themselves between the two groups," Shibalov added.

Several European journalists at the scene tweeted that they too were targeted by the pro-Russian group and had to run.

Donetsk's municipal authorities told AFP that 14 people were wounded.

Russian state media portrayed the violence as a clash between pro-Russian "self defence groups" and pro-Kiev "ultra-nationalists".

The brutality added to spreading unrest in east Ukraine, which the United States and the European Union accuse Russia of fomenting to destabilise Kiev's Western-backed government.

 

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