Cafe bombing kills separatist leader in eastern Ukraine. Suspects in custody

Scene of Ukraine Donetsk explosion

Scene of Ukraine Donetsk explosion

The explosion in Donetsk killed Alexander Zakharchenko, 42, who referred to himself prime minister of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, a largely unrecognized breakaway state supported by Russian Federation.

Security forces arrested Ukrainians suspected of causing the blast.

The Eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk engaged in open conflict with Kiev since they refused to accept the new government, following the 2014 coup, and established the self-proclaimed republics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded Zakharchenko, who was 42, as "a true people's leader" and promised Donetsk residents that "Russia always will be with you".

The blast left two people dead and nine injured, including DPR minister of taxes and duties, Alexander Timofeyev, and the head of a local youth organization, Natalya Volkova.

Russian Federation accused Ukraine of assassinating the separatist leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, to try to unleash a renewed war in eastern Ukraine, but Kiev said it had nothing to do with the blast and blamed separatist infighting.

Putin said he expected to see the killers brought to justice.

Russian Federation is believed to have supplied a mobile Buk missile launcher that a team of worldwide investigators alleges shot down a Malaysian passenger jet while flying over rebel territory in 2014, killing all 209 people aboard.

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"They are placing a risky bet on destabilizing the situation", Putin said, without specifying who those people were.

Ihor Huskov, chief of staff for Ukraine's Security Service, said Zakharchenko was killed as part of an internal criminal conflict among militants.

"Several people have been already detained" as a result of an operation to find those responsible for Mr Zakharchenko's murder, the acting head of the region Dmitry Trapeznikov told reporters yesterday.

It has killed the self-proclaimed area's pro-Russian Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko, his government says.

Guskov, the Ukrainian intelligence official, said on the 112 Ukraine television channel that Zakharchenko's murder could have stemmed from a business dispute among the rebels or was organized by Russian spies.

Among those killed was Arseny Pavlov, who went by the nom de guerre "Motorola" and was blown up in the lift of his apartment building in Donetsk in October, 2016.

Another prominent casualty was Alexander Bednov, nicknamed "Batman", a senior commander in the Luhansk People's Republic, another Eastern-Ukrainian breakaway region that neighbours Donetsk.

The leader of the main breakaway territory backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine has been killed by a bomb.

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