Ukraine crisis: Mariupol residents protest at Government crackdown on rebels as troops reclaim city

The southern port was controlled by pro-Russian separatists

The Ukrainian flag is flying once again over government buildings in the port of Mariupol after troops reclaimed the city in fierce fighting with pro-Russian separatists.

But civilians gathered in the town centre on Friday to protest against the government’s attack on rebels, shouting obscenities at passing Ukrainian soldiers.

The sandbags and concrete blocks of roadblocks once manned by insurgents were seen riddled with bullet holes and an armoured personnel carrier bearing rebel insignia smouldered as police cordoned off the streets.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote on Facebook that the Ukrainian flag was raised over the city hall in Mariupol at 10.34am local time.

It was less than six hours after the attack began on the city of 500,000 people, Ukraine's biggest Azov Sea port.

A ministry aide said government forces stormed the rebels after they were surrounded and given 10 minutes to surrender.

At least five separatists and two servicemen were killed in the battle before many of the rebels fled.

Protesting against the Ukrainian army’s actions, Andrei Nikodimovich, 52, said: “The government brought everything here, including a cannon...people were not allowed to come and witness how the government was shooting its own citizens.”

Mariupol, which has changed hands several times in weeks of conflict, is situated on strategic roads from the Russian border into the rest of Ukraine and steel is exported through the port.

Mr Avakov said government troops had won back control of a 75-mile stretch of the Russian border that had fallen to the rebels.

On Friday a separatist leader, Denis Pushilin, said he was potentially open to talks with the Ukrainian government provided there were mediators present, including Russia.

“If an international organisation were also involved that would be a plus too,” he said in an interview on Russian television.

Political ties have also been strained by the appearance of several tanks in east Ukraine.

Mr Avakov accused Russia on Thursday of allowing the rebels to bring them across the border and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who took office less than a week ago, told Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone that the situation was “unacceptable.”

Russia has continually denied sending troops or weapons to Ukraine and Mr Putin has supported a diplomatic solution to the crisis in public statements, as well as meeting Mr Poroshenko during the D-Day anniversary commemorations.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Read more: 'We will not give up Crimea', Poroshenko vows
Putin and Poroshenko vow to end bloodshed
REBELS 'MASSACReD' IN DONETSK
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links