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Home News On-edge rebels in Ukraine briefly grab Western journalists

On-edge rebels in Ukraine briefly grab Western journalists

Published on 02/05/2014

Three teams of Western journalists covering an assault by Ukraine's military on the flashpoint town of Slavyansk on Friday were seized by highly strung rebels and held for hours -- in some cases roughed up.

US reporters for CBS television news and the online site Buzzfeed, and a team with Britain’s Sky News were grabbed at rebel-held checkpoints as they tried to enter the town.

The CBS reporter, Clarissa Ward, told her network that after being abducted she and her colleagues were taken to different locations, and at one point blindfolded. A male member of the team was beaten.

One pro-Russian rebel commander explained to them that the insurgents’ nerves were frayed by the military onslaught and assured them they would come to no harm. Eventually they were freed.

Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio, an experienced correspondent who used to work for Newsweek, tweeted that he endured a similar experience.

He said the rebels were overhead talking about keeping them as hostages, and one person in his group was punched twice.

Once the rebels decided to release them, they were “politely” served tea. But the militants stole his flak jacket and helmet, saying they were “something for us to remember you by”.

A Sky spokeswoman, meanwhile, confirmed to AFP: “A Sky News crew was detained for a number of hours this morning in eastern Ukraine. We are glad they have since been released and are safe and well.”

Last month, the rebels in Slavyansk grabbed another American journalist, Simon Ostrovsky of VICE News, and kept him for four days. He, too, said he was beaten initially. After being called a “provocateur”, the 33-year-old was released.