The team of international military observers held captive in Ukraine for more than a week has been released.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe confirmed early Saturday all seven members and the five Ukrainians traveling with the group were free. (Via Ukraine News One)
The OSCE monitoring mission was tasked with implementing the international agreement reached in Geneva last month aimed at reducing tensions in Ukraine. (Via The Voice of Russia)
The group was abducted on April 25 in the Eastern city of Slovyansk and declared “prisoners of war” by the city’s self-appointed mayor. The pro-Russian forces that kidnapped them alleged they were spying for NATO. (Via Euronews, YouTube / Graham Phillips)
The leader of the insurgency told the media there were no conditions for the release of the observers. He said he hoped the so-called “voluntary act” would be reciprocated by Kiev.
The news comes as Ukraine’s fragile government broadens its offensive against pro-Russian insurgents, who have overrun nearly a dozen cities in eastern Ukraine. Friday saw the worst violence in months. (Via YouTube / Bunchn Lumis)
Pro-Russian forces downed two Ukrainian military helicopters attempting an assault on a pro-Russian camp in Slaviansk. (Via Al Jazeera)
That same day a fire broke out during clashes in the southern port city of Odessa, killing more than 30 people who choked to death on smoke or jumped out of the burning building. (Via YouTube / Віталій Уманець)
On Friday, President Obama, along with his German counterpart Angela Merkel, pledged harsher sanctions if Russia intervenes with Ukraine's May 25 elections.