Europe

Separatist commander assassinated in eastern Ukraine

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2014, file photo, a Pro-Russian rebel commander with the nom de guerre Givi casts his ballot during supreme council and presidential elections on the front line near Donetsk airport in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Rebels' Donets News Agency said on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, that Mikhail Tolstykh, better known under his nom de guerre Givi, died early Wednesday morning in what it described as a terrorist attack. Several Russian media outlets said 35-year old Tolstykh died in an explosion in his office. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2014, file photo, a Pro-Russian rebel commander with the nom de guerre Givi casts his ballot during supreme council and presidential elections on the front line near Donetsk airport in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Rebels' Donets News Agency said on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, that Mikhail Tolstykh, better known under his nom de guerre Givi, died early Wednesday morning in what it described as a terrorist attack. Several Russian media outlets said 35-year old Tolstykh died in an explosion in his office. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)  (The Associated Press)

Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine say one of their most prominent warlords has been assassinated.

Rebels' Donets News Agency said Mikhail Tolstykh, better known under his nom de guerre Givi, died early Wednesday morning in what it described as a terrorist attack. Several Russian media outlets said Tolstykh died in an explosion in his office. Russian state television showed pictures of firefighters putting out flames in the building where Toltsykh's headquarters is believed to be.

Tolstykh was one of the most recognizable faces of an armed conflict between Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels which has claimed more than 9,800 lives since it began in 2014. Tolstykh's death follows the assassination of his close associate Arsen Pavlov, also known as Motorola, last year.