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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world