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Masked attackers storm Roma camp in Ukraine

A group of masked assailants attack minority camp on the outskirts of Lviv, killing one man and wounding four others.

Lviv

Masked assailants have attacked a Roma camp in western Ukraine, killing one person and injuring four others including a child.

Police said on Sunday that a group of masked individuals carrying baseball bats and knives stormed the camp housing the Roma minority on the outskirts of the city of Lviv late on Saturday.

A 24-year-old man died from stab wounds and four more people were brought to hospital, including a 10-year-old Roma boy and a 30-year-old woman, police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told AFP news agency. 

Seven suspected attackers have been detained, police said in a statement, as it opened a criminal case over the "deliberate murder committed by a group of people". 

Those detained are aged 16 and 17, as well as a 20-year-old accused of planning the attack, police said. If convicted, the alleged attackers could face up to 15 years in prison.

The Council of Europe rights group condemned the attack and said it expected a "full and transparent investigation without delay".

The incident on Saturday follows a series of attacks on Roma communities in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, and in the cities of Lviv and Ternopil that have been condemned by rights groups.

During an incident in Kiev in April, a neo-Nazi group burnt down tents of a Roma community and chased women and small children, throwing stones at them and setting off pepper spray.

A neo-Nazi group called C14 posted footage showing its members taking part in the Kiev assault on Facebook and promised more attacks.

In mid-June leading rights groups urged Ukraine to investigate attacks and harassment against the Roma minority, slamming "an atmosphere of near total impunity" in the country. 

In a joint letter to Kiev authorities, four groups including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International condemned what they said was "a growing number of attacks by radicals".

"The authorities have so far failed... to respond to most incidents, which has created an atmosphere of near total impunity," the groups said.

The Council of Europe estimates the number of Roma in Ukraine at some 260,000, out of a population of around 48.5 million.

Roma are among the most politically and economically marginalised demographic groups in Europe.


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