Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Israel identifies ‘missing’ soldier in Gaza

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs ' €80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Widodo poised to become Indonesian president

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

Blood and gunfire in Ukraine army attack on rebel checkpoint

AFP

Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint near the southern city of Slavyansk on May 3, 2014Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint near the southern city of Slavyansk on May 3, 2014

Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint near the southern city of Slavyansk on May 3, 2014Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint near the southern city of Slavyansk on May 3, 2014

Blood flowing from a bullet wound, the grey-haired man lies in the middle of the roadblock waving weakly for help as shots ring out nearby and thick black smoke from burning tyres curls into the sky.

"I've called an ambulance. They have to come, they have to come," a man screams, ducking for cover behind a concrete breezeblock.

A hundred metres (yards) away, a column of Ukrainian army armoured vehicles opens fire again. The sound of their mounted machine guns and the soldiers' automatic rifles echoes as they move in on one of the remaining pro-Russian rebel checkpoints just south of the rebel bastion of Slavyansk.

From nearby trees, separatist gunmen shoot back with the clack-clack-clack of sporadic automatic gunfire.

They are retreating, as they realise they are no match for the larger Ukrainian force.

- 'Who's shooting?' -

Not very far away, on the outskirts of the town of Kramatorsk -- the last town to the south of Slavyansk on the road from the regional capital Donetsk -- the rebels are in control.

A handful of masked men crouch behind a van with rifles as a small pile of tyres burn in the road.

Other militants gather Molotov cocktails by the side of the road while onlookers warily peer in the distance at the smoking checkpoint.

"What's going on? Who's shooting -- us or them?" asks one man hiding in a bus stop and clutching a beer. By "them" he means the soldiers.

After about half an hour the sound of firing subsides. Two ambulances drive at speed through Kramatorsk with their sirens wailing.

The Ukrainian soldiers have taken control of the checkpoint.

It's a small victory for the military on the second day of an operation against the rebels in Slavyansk.

But it's short-lived.

Less than two hours later, the Ukrainian soldiers who had fought so hard to take the checkpoint abandon it. It's not clear why.

Angry local residents wander around the smouldering wreckage. A few cars nervously pass through, past two empty petrol tankers the rebels had been using as barriers. The ends of the tankers are shorn off, apparently by heavy weapon fire or from an explosion.

"They drove off through the fields," pensioner Fyodor Mordiltsev said.

"The authorities in Kiev don't care about their people. They have sold out to the White House".

Date created : 2014-05-03