Ukraine rebels say bodyguard died with leader in bombing

September 1, 2018
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A security officer stands by a destroyed cafe a day after a blask killed rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. A blast in a war-themed cafe in eastern Ukraine on Friday killed the most prominent leader of the Russia-backed separatists who have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014, rebel officials said. (AP Photo/Alexander Yermochenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — The health minister of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk region says a cafe bombing that killed the separatists’ leader also killed a bodyguard and wounded 12 others.

Alexander Zakharchenko’s death on Friday is re-escalating tensions in the conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. Separatists claimed that Ukraine was preparing new offensives.

Zakharchenko was prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. His death was reported soon after the cafe explosion, but the extent of the casualties was not revealed until DPT health minister Alexander Oprishchenko reported them on Saturday.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014, but mostly has waned in recent years.

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