Novobakhmutivka: Three bridges on key roads leading into the Ukrainian city of Donetsk were blown up today -- an apparent attempt to slow down any possible assault by government forces on the rebel-held stronghold.
Separatist fighters driven out of Slovyansk and other eastern towns by the Ukrainian army over the weekend had regrouped in Donetsk, a city of 1 million where pro-Russia rebels have declared independence as the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Pavel Gubarev, the region`s self-described governor, had promised "real partisan war around the whole perimeter of Donetsk" before thousands of supporters at a rally yesterday.
It was not exactly clear who blew up the highway and train bridges today, but their destruction would most benefit the rebels.
Battles between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists have left over 400 people dead and thousands homeless since they began in early April.
In the village of Novobakhmutivka, where a rail line crosses over a highway out of Donetsk, an 11-wagon cargo train was perched perilously today on the collapsed bridge. The road leads toward Slovyansk, a former insurgent stronghold that was recaptured Saturday by Ukrainian troops. Downing the bridge also damaged the rail line.
Anatoly Krasov, who was driving along the road today, said he saw an explosion before the bridge collapsed with a large cargo train on it.
He said a group of men dressed in the camouflage uniforms often worn by the rebels then got into their cars and drove back toward Donetsk.
Two other bridges on roads leading from Slovyansk to Donetsk were also destroyed today in the villages of Zakitne and Seleznevka, the Road Transportation Agency of Donetsk Region said.
The insurgents control the regional administration building in Donetsk and checkpoints on the city`s outskirts.
They also face little internal resistance from police forces or government officials in the city, who have done nothing in recent months to hinder their free movement around Donetsk.
But it is unclear whether they will be able to put up major resistance in the face of a Ukrainian military attack.