The four remaining European military observers held in captivity in eastern Ukraine have been released, nearly a month after they were detained by pro-Russian separatists.
They were taken by rebel gunmen to a hotel in Donetsk and freed. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said they were in good health.
Another OSCE team was released last week.
“We have fulfilled our obligations and released all OSCE monitors. It was not easy, they were not with commanders who are under our control, however we have secured their release,” said Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Despite a fragile ceasefire between government forces and rebels, Ukraine’s military says three soldiers were killed and a fourth wounded when separatists attacked their post on Saturday.
After rebels captured an Interior Ministry base with over a hundred troops on Friday, one separatist leader gave them a stark choice:
“You have the right to choose – either go home or somewhere else or stay here continue your service (with us). The choice is yours,” said Vladimir Makovich, deputy chief of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s Supreme Council.
The vast majority of the soldiers are said to have opted to go home.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council has said it has a plan if rebels fail to lay down their arms after the extended government ceasefire comes to an end – but did not give details.