Ukraine Monitors Missing: Group Loses Touch, Another Team in Custody

Friday, 30 May 2014 06:11 PM

By Ken Mandel

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A five-member team of monitors is missing in east Ukraine after losing contact with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Friday, while four members of a separate OSCE mission remain captive by pro-Russian rebel forces, raising increased tension in the region.

The most recent team consists of four international observers and a Ukrainian translator, OSCE said in a statement. They were stopped by armed men in the town of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region late Thursday.

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The earlier, four-member group in the nearby Donetsk region has been out of touch since Monday, though it was confirmed on Thursday that they were in custody.

A third group was detained but later freed on Thursday.

The two teams have been in Ukraine for weeks to check security after Russia annexed Crimea, as well as joining the hundreds of other international groups to monitor Sunday's presidential election.

Ukraine has fought back against pro-Russia rebels who have taken control of government and police buildings and want the area to become part of Russia.

President-elect Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to be sworn into office June 7, and has pledged swift action against the rebels.

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