Ukraine rebels free four OSCE observers

Four out of the eight international observers captured over a month ago released in Donetsk.

    Ukraine rebels free four OSCE observers
    Securing the release of the four OSCE hostages has been a part of peace consultations between mediators [Reuters]

    Rebels in southeast Ukraine have released four out of eight international observers captured over a month ago, in an apparent goodwill gesture that could help pave the way to a resolution of the conflict that has so far claimed hundreds of lives.

    Four observers from Switzerland, Turkey, Estonia and Denmark, part of the 100-strong mission, were brought by heavily armed rebels to a hotel in central Donetsk, where they were handed over to their colleagues early on Friday. Another four remain in rebel captivity in the neighbouring Luhansk region.

    It was a long road and this release is the fruit of good will and it was unconditional

    Alexander Borodai,prime minister of Donetsk People's Republic

    "It was a long road and this release is the fruit of good will and it was unconditional," Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, told reporters. "I am hoping we can facilitate the release of the four remaining observers."

    'Profoundly grateful'

    Pro-Russian separatists had detained the eight observers from the Vienna-based Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a key security and rights body, tasked with monitoring an agreement drafted in Switzerland in April to de-escalate the crisis that has pitted the rebels against leaders in Kiev.

    Securing the release of the four OSCE hostages has been a part of peace consultations between mediators of the Kiev government, OSCE, Russia and rebel leaders.

    The ceasefire between the rebels and the government, set to expire later on Friday, has already been marred by a number of violations, including the downing of a Ukrainian helicopter earlier this week with the loss of all nine people on board.

    Mark Etherington, the senior OSCE mediator in southeastern Ukraine, said the mission was "profoundly grateful" to all who facilitated the release of the hostages. He did not elaborate.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.