Rebel news agency DAN said the afternoon explosion killed Alexander Zakharchenko, 42, the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. The separatist government’s revenue minister, Alexander Timofeev, was severely injured in the blast, Russian news agencies reported.
The cafe in the city of Donetsk that was hit by the explosion, named Separ, was separatist-themed and had camouflage netting hanging from its eaves, according to recent photographs.
Denis Pushilin, the speaker of the separatists’ parliament, blamed Ukrainian forces for the explosion, calling it “the latest aggression from the Ukrainian side,” according to DAN.
The rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk arose soon after pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power amid mass protests in February 2014. Russian-speakers predominate in the two regions, and separatist sentiment skyrocketed.