Explosions in contested region of Europe spark fears Ukraine war is spreading – what we know

World

Three days of alleged attacks in a contested area of Moldova are raising fears the conflict in Ukraine may be spreading over the border.

There have been reports of explosions and shots fired in Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway territory in Moldova.

The incidents are said to have happened in Tiraspol, Maiac, Parcani and Cobasna.

There have been four attacks over three days in the region
Image:
There have been four alleged attacks over three days in the region

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Pro-Russian separatists have pointed the finger at Ukraine, while Moldova’s pro-Western government accused those within Transnistria of trying to destabilise the situation.

Transnistria, with a population of about 470,000 people, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova. It is home to a regiment of around 1,000 Russian soldiers.

The region’s independence is not recognised by the pro-Western government of Moldova or the international community.

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On Monday, the Transnistrian authorities said an explosion was reported at the state’s security headquarters in Tiraspol, the region’s main city.

The security headquarters was attacked. Pic: Google Earth.
Image:
The security headquarters was said to have been attacked. Pic: Google Earth.

Photos shared on Twitter by the Ministry of Internal Affairs show emergency services at the scene.

Smoke can be seen coming from the building’s broken windows.

Smoke can be seen coming out of the building in this image widely shared online
Image:
Smoke can be seen coming out of the building in this image widely shared online

Local news provider First Transnistria published this watermarked footage which appears to be CCTV footage of the attack.

Sky News has verified the location in the video matches the scene of the incident. It appears to show two men using launchers to fire at the building.

Photos from the scene show discarded remnants of launchers.

Parts of launchers were seen at the site of the attack
Image:
Parts of launchers were seen at the site of the attack

Weapons experts believe they are both single-shot rocket launchers, an RPG-22 and an RShG-1.

The following day, explosions reportedly hit two targets.

One was a military unit in Parcani.

The radio masts were hit on Tuesday. Pic: Google Earth
Image:
The radio masts were reportedly hit on Tuesday. Pic: Google Earth

The second was an attack on two radio masts in nearby Maiac.

The masts are used to transmit Russian broadcasts.

Part of the radio antenna hit on Tuesday. Pic: Transdniestrian Interior Ministry/REUTERS
Image:
Part of the radio antenna hit on Tuesday. Pic: Transnistria Interior Ministry/REUTERS

And on Wednesday, the interior ministry claimed “several drones” which were “launched from Ukraine” flew over Cobasna.

It continued to say: “Shots were fired from the Ukrainian side in the direction of Cobasna.”

The statement highlighted that the area is the site of one of the largest ammunition depots in Europe.

Cobasna is home to a large ammunitions depot. Pic: Google Earth
Image:
Cobasna is home to a large ammunitions depot. Pic: Google Earth

After the first three alleged attacks, Transnistria’s unrecognised president’s office announced a series of measures in response.

This included new checkpoints, increased powers for law enforcement agencies, as well as checks on vehicles and people.


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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