Ukraine crisis: Blast kills top Donetsk rebel Zakharchenko

A key leader of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has been killed in an explosion at a cafe he owned in Donetsk city, sources in the rebel administration there say.

Alexander Zakharchenko’s death was reported by rebel news agency DNR.

Ukrainians suspected of being behind the blast were arrested nearby, a security source was quoted as saying.

But it had been widely reported that Zakharchenko was out of favour with Russia.

Authorities in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” have blamed previous assassinations of rebel leaders on the Ukrainian government, which denies any involvement.

Some observers have attributed the deaths to infighting among the rebels, or moves by Moscow to eliminate inconvenient separatist leaders.

Russia’s foreign ministry said it suspected the Ukrainian government of organising the latest killing.

What are the reports saying?

Rebel and Russian news reports say the separatists’ “finance minister” Alexander Timofeyev was wounded in the blast at the Separ cafe that killed Zakharchenko just a few hundred metres from his residence.

“According to preliminary information, it is unfortunately true. The republic’s leader suffered a fatal wound,” a senior Donetsk rebel, Vladislav Berdichevsky, told Interfax news agency.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “there is every reason to believe that the Kiev regime is behind the murder [of Zakharchenko]”.

She said the Kiev “party of war” was “violating its…

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