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Reports: Separatist Leader Targeted In Bomb Attack In Eastern Ukraine

The damaged car in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, in which Sergei Popov was reportedly wounded.
The damaged car in Horlivka, eastern Ukraine, in which Sergei Popov was reportedly wounded.

News reports say a bomb detonated under a car carrying a militia official with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, wounding him.

Russian news agencies identified the man as Sergei Popov, leader of a police unit in a separatist-controlled part of the Donetsk region.

News organizations linked to the unrecognized regional administration said the explosive device detonated under Popov’s car in the town of Horlivka on February 15, showering him with shrapnel.

Those reports identified him under the code name “Dolgy” and said he was a commander of a battalion of the "people's militia of the Donetsk People's Republic."

His condition was not immediately clear.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, nor confirmation from Ukrainian government officials.

The Donetsk People’s Republic is one of two administrative entities that oversee government functions in parts of eastern Ukraine that have been controlled for years by Russia-backed separatists. Their authority is not recognized by the government in Kyiv.

The incident was the latest in which prominent militia leaders in eastern Ukraine have been targeted by suspicious bombings.

In 2018, the leader of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko was killed in a bomb attack in Donetsk.

In February 2017, Mikhail Tolstykh, a separatist commander known as Givi, died in an explosion at his office in Donetsk.

Arseny Pavlov, another prominent militia commander known as Motorola, was killed when a bomb exploded in an elevator in his Donetsk apartment building in October 2016.

No one has claimed responsibility for any of the bombings, though suspicion has often fallen on the Ukrainian intelligence services.

Since war broke out in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, more than 13,200 people have been killed in the fighting that pits Russia-backed separatists against Ukrainian government forces.

Moscow has denied funding or supplying separatist forces, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to its involvement.

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