Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko killed in explosion in Ukraine

Alexander Zakharchenko is believed to have been killed in an explosion in a cafe in Donetsk

Alexander Zakharchenko is believed to have been killed in an explosion in a Donetsk cafe

Head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko was killed by an explosion in Donetsk on Friday.

There is "every reason to believe" that Zakharchenko's murder was orchestrated by Kiev, which "has repeatedly resorted to such methods to get rid of dissidents and undesirables", Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation issued a statement that stopped short of directly blaming the Ukrainian government.

A low-grade conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine has continued in recent months, with each side accusing the other of violating the peace agreements hammered out by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015.

The leader of the main breakaway territory backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine has been killed by a bomb.

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Members of the People's Militia of Crimea commemorate the leader of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko, who was assassinated in Donetsk, in Simferopol, Crimea on September 1, 2018.

In a telegram of condolences released by the Kremlin, Putin praised Zakharchenko as a leader and a patriot. "They are making a unsafe bet on destabilizing the situation".

The explosion occurred in the Separ restaurant in the city center at about 17:30. Footage shared on social media showed the damaged facade of the cafe and downtown Donetsk cordoned off amid a heavy security presence.

In early 2014, soon after Ukraine's pro-Russian government was toppled by the Maidan revolution, he took part in the seizure of the Donetsk regional administration building by people saying they were protesting against the new pro-Western authorities.

And it has allegedly wounded three people - including the rebel state's finance minister Alexander Timofeev.

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Pro-Russian rebels fire artillery toward Ukrainian positions on outskirts of Donetsk in October 2014.

The blast is claimed to have rocked the separatist region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine this afternoon.

Russian officials blame Ukraine for these assassinations but Kiev refutes this. A vote held by separatists confirmed him in office.

"However, we also don't exclude the possibility that it was an attempt by Russian intelligence services to remove a disliked figure, which, according to out information, became superfluous and was bothering the Russians".

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