MOSCOW -- Ukraine national guard forces killed three, wounded 13 and detained 63 armed militants who attacked their unit in the port of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on the Azov Sea, an official said.
The armed gang that attacked the unit late Wednesday numbered about 300, Arsen Avakov, acting interior minister, wrote on his Facebook account Thursday.
"After the attackers threw fire grenades and Molotov cocktails into the territory of the unit and opened fire on soldiers on guard, the national guard troops opened warning fire and then … as the attack was repeated they began shooting to kill," Avakov wrote. "The operation is continuing and a special police unit is pursuing one of the armed groups."
Hromadske TV, a private online network, showed video of the initial attack in which armed, masked men standing in front of the unit demanded that soldiers surrender their weapons and arrest and hand over their commander.
"After the shocking setbacks in Kramatorsk when an airborne unit surrendered several armored vehicles to extremists, the actions of our soldiers in Mariupol demonstrate that the anti-terrorist operation in the Donetsk region is still continuing and may yet gain momentum," Dmitry Tymchuk, head of the Kiev-based Center for Military and Political Research, said in a phone interview.
Armed separatists allegedly led by Russian agents continued to hold key administrative buildings and some police stations in several cities and towns of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the south east, Ukraine officials charge.