In the deadliest raid yet on Ukrainian troops, pro-Russia insurgents attacked a military checkpoint Thursday, killing 16 soldiers, and the interim prime minister accused Moscow of trying to disrupt the upcoming election for a new president to lead the divided country out of its crisis.
A rebel commander said one of his fighters also died in the raid in eastern Ukraine, which left a gruesome scene near the town of Volnovakha, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the city of Donetsk. Witnesses, including a medical worker, said more than 30 Ukrainian troops were wounded, with some in grave condition. Fighting also raged in at least two other villages.
The armed uprising and the government’s offensive to put it down have cast a shadow over Sunday’s election, with Kiev acknowledging it will be impossible to hold the vote in some areas. In the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where separatists have declared independence and pledged to derail the vote, election workers reported threats and interference from gunmen.
Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of escalating the conflict and trying to disrupt the election.