AP journalists see 11 dead at Ukraine checkpoint

By Vladimir Isachenkov and Alexander Zemlianicheno
May. 22, 2014 5:17 AM EDT

BLAHODATNE, Ukraine (AP) - AP journalists have seen 11 dead bodies at a Ukrainian military checkpoint. Witnesses said that pro-Russian insurgents attacked the checkpoint in the village of Blahodatne in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday.

Three charred Ukrainian armored personnel carriers and several other burned military vehicles stood at the site of the combat.

Witnesses said about 30 Ukrainian troops were wounded when the insurgents attacked the checkpoint.

Pro-Russian insurgents in the east, who have seized government buildings and engaged in clashes with government troops that have left scores dead since April, on Thursday continued battling the Ukrainian forces around Slovyansk, the eastern city that has been the epicenter of fighting.

In the village of Semenovka on the outskirts of Slovyansk, artillery shelling that appeared to come from government positions badly damaged several houses Thursday.

Zinaida Patskan, 80, had the roof of her house torn by an explosion, which also shattered one of the walls. "Why they are hitting us?" she said, bursting into tears. "We are peaceful people!"

Patskan, who wasn't hurt, said she was hiding under a kitchen table with her cat, Timofey, when the shelling came.

About a hundred Semenovka residents later vented their anger against the central government, demanding that the Ukrainian forces cease their offensive and withdraw from the region. Speakers at the rally also called for boycotting the presidential vote.