Ukraine army launches armoured assault on Slavyansk

Ukraine's military launched an assault on the flashpoint rebel-held town of Slavyansk on Thursday (24/04/2014), sending in armoured vehicles and a helicopter, AFP journalists in the town reported.

Several armoured personnel carriers drove past an abandoned rebel roadblock in flames to take up position at the entry to the town.

Shooting was heard as a helicopter flew overhead. Pro-Russian gunmen in the town were retreating to defensive positions.

A spokeswoman for the separatists, Stella Khorocheva, told AFP that all civilians had been ordered out of the insurgent-held town hall.

"The armed men handling the defence of the town hall will remain," she said. - AFP