According to Ukrainian separatist and Russian media, the Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Alexander Zakharchenko, was killed in an explosion in a Donetsk café on Friday, August 31. At least three other people are reported to have been wounded in the blast, including DPR finance minister Alexander Timofeev. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the DPR have blamed Ukraine for the assassination, while Ukrainian officials say the attack was a manifestation of internal tensions within the DPR. Unconfirmed reports from DPR security officials claim that two Ukrainians have been arrested in relation to the blast. Preliminary reports indicate that the area around Separ Café has been cordoned off to facilitate the conduct of an ongoing investigation. Localized traffic disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the explosion in the coming hours.
Clashes between Ukrainian state forces and Russian-backed separatists have been taking place on a regular basis despite a number of ceasefire agreements made since 2014. According to the UN, more than 10,300 people have died since the eastern Ukraine conflict erupted in April 2014, soon after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The fighting has displaced more than 1.6 million people. The rebels remain in control of a large swath of territory in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, which are mainly Russian-speaking regions. Ukraine has designated the DPR as a terrorist organization.
Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to the far east of Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk.
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