Ukraine launches terror probe into new Odessa blast

5th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian police on Monday launched a terror probe into a blast in the government-controlled port of Odessa that damaged a building housing a soldiers' support centre.

Local authorities said the late Sunday explosion in the city of one million caused no injuries but shattered windows in the office of volunteers helping Ukrainian troops fighting pro-Russian insurgents in industrial east.

The blast was the latest in a series to hit such offices in the volatile Black Sea port. Police are still investigating a similar incident that struck another centre on December 23.

The scenic city has been tense since a May 2 clash between Kiev and Moscow supporters caused a fire that killed nearly 50 pro-Russian activists.

Russia accused the local police and fire department of siding with the Kiev government sympathisers and refusing to help the pro-Russians trapped inside a burning building in which they had taken shelter.

Both federal and local authorities deny the charges. Yet an investigation into the incident is still ongoing and no officials -- to the Kremlin's great anger -- have been charged.

The volatile atmosphere in Odessa has prompted Kiev to dispatch a National Guard unit into the city on Saturday.

The rebel uprising has killed more than 4,700 people since April and has seen both Kiev and its Western allies blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for stoking the revolt.

Moscow denies the charge and in turn accuses Washington of financing waves of pro-European protests in Kiev last winter that resulted in the February fall of a Kremlin-backed president and the subsequent onset of the eastern revolt.

A new partial truce agreed on December 9 -- along with the snowy winter weather -- has helped stem the deadliest fighting in the separatist regions in recent weeks.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is expected to meet Putin on January 15 in Kazakhstan for a new round of peace talks that is due to also include the leaders of Germany and France.

© 2015 AFP

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