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US embassy calls east Ukraine violence, OSCE abductions 'terrorism'

Eight detained OSCE observers take part in a press conference of the pro-Russian separatist leader and self-proclaimed 'people's mayor' of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov (4thL) in Slavyansk on April 27, 2014
Eight detained OSCE observers take part in a press conference of the pro-Russian separatist leader and self-proclaimed "people's mayor" of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov (4thL) in Slavyansk on April 27, 2014

The US embassy in Kiev said Tuesday the recent abduction by rebels of OSCE inspectors and an attack on demonstrators by pro-Russian thugs in east Ukraine were acts of "terrorism".

"There is no place for these examples of inhuman behaviour in a modern, democratic society. This is terrorism, pure and simple," it said in a statement.

Speaking about the outbreak of violence on Monday in Donetsk, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt told reporters in Kiev: "We're dealing with people with knives and baseball bats chasing after and beating elderly people, women, children. There's no place for that. There's no place for that in Ukrainian democracy."

In the latest unrest in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian demonstrators in Donetsk attacked a rally of people supporting the Western-backed government in Kiev with weapons including knives, iron bars, bricks and fireworks, leaving 14 people wounded.

However, despite the violence simmering in eastern Ukraine, Pyatt said it was important to put it in context.

"As concerned as we are about these activities, I think it's worth remembering that we are talking about relatively small groups of people often led by an armed echelon," the ambassador told reporters.

"This is still relatively isolated."

Pyatt also said he had "no confirmation at this point" that Moscow's troops massed on the border with Ukraine had pulled back to their barracks, as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had announced earlier.

And he warned that any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a "major escalation" that would "draw an inevitable sharp reaction from the US".

"It would be a dramatically unfortunate development which I think would produce only the most tragic consequences."