Ukraine troops have regained control of the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk from pro-Moscow separatists. The European security watchdog, OSCE, has lost contact with a four-man team near the city.
After a day of air strikes and fighting, the exact number of people who died in and around the airport remained unclear but a police investigatorsaid he had seen a list of 33 dead.
"The airport is under our full control. The enemy suffered heavy losses. We have none," Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said in a statement on Tuesday. He added that the military was continuing its operation at the airport and there were sounds of gunfire and explosions during the day.
There were also reports of barricades being built by separatists on the main road from the airport to the city in an effort to block the army troops moving towards occupied buildings in the city center.
The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Tuesday it had lost contact since Monday evening with four team members on a routine patrol east of Donetsk.
"The team was on a routine patrol east of Donetsk when contact was lost. We have been unable to re-establish communication until now," OSCE said. "We are continuing with our efforts and utilizing our contacts on the ground. The Ukrainian government as well as regional authorities have been informed of the situation."In early May, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine freed seven European military observers
from a separate OSCE-linked mission after holding them for eight days.
The 57-nation OSCE aims to prevent conflict and promote democracy on the continent. In March it decided to deploy civilian monitors across Ukraine to try to help to defuse the crisis. The mission has about 282 people, including 198 civilian, international monitors from 41 member countries, according to the OSCE website.
jm/kms (Reuters, AFP)