Ukraine army claims 150 militants killed near Mykolayivka outside Sloviansk
A spokesman for the Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine, Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky, has announced that government forces have sealed off the town of Mykolayivka, located outside of Sloviansk in Donetsk region, paving the way for further measures by the National Guard and the Interior Ministry.
"The adversary has suffered serious losses - at least 150 militants have been eliminated, six checkpoints and an ammunition depot in Mykolayivka and Semenivka have been destroyed," Dmytrashkivsky told Interfax-Ukraine on Thursday evening.
The Ukrainian army has also taken control over a highway linking the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, he said.
The fighting in Mykolayivka continued throughout the day, the spokesman said. Ukrainian government forces first opened fire on the militants' strongholds around the town and moved forward, he said. They launched an offensive on Thursday evening, he added.
However, the army was forced to change its tactic after militants put up fierce resistance, the spokesman said.
"We did not allow them to drag ourselves into ambushes and 'fire pockets':we immediately launched artillery and air strikes against the adversary's gun positions and strongholds in order to save the lives and health of our soldiers," Dmytrashkivsky said.
One Ukrainian soldier was killed and another four were injured in the fighting near Mykolayivka, he said.
Two soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been killed and another four have been injured over the past 24 hours, he added.