The top military official of a self-proclaimed separatist republic in eastern Ukraine was killed by car bomb Saturday, the latest victim of a string of similar attacks, local media reported.
Oleg Anashchenko, head of the military department of the Lugansk People’s Republic, died in a car explosion, the pro-Russian rebels’ news agency said.
The blast, which took place in the rebels’ de facto capital of Lugansk, was “a terrorist act” that also took the life of another one person, the report said.
It accused Ukrainian forces of killing Anashchenko in a claim denied by Kiev.
The latest incident echoed a similar one in August when the same republic’s leader Igor Plotnitsky was injured in a suspected car bombing.
Lugansk is the smaller of two breakaway pro-Russian provinces that have been fighting Ukrainian government forces for 33 months.
Senior Donetsk rebel officials have also been killed in an apparent power struggle.
The latest blast coincided with a surge in fighting between Ukrainian troops and those from the neighbouring self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk which has killed 35 people since Sunday.
A total of 10,000 people have been killed since Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking eastern industrial regions revolted against Kiev’s pro-Western government in April 2014.
Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting the rebels and deploying troops across the border, claims that Moscow refutes.—APP