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More than 50 rebels killed as new Ukraine leader unleashes assault

• By By Sabina Zawadzki and Gabriela Baczynska
The unprecedented offensive throws a challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said he reserves the right to defend Russian speakers under threat, but whose past assertions that Kiev is led by an illegitimate "junta" were undermined by the landslide election victory of billionaire Petro Poroshenko.

Reuters journalists counted 20 bodies in combat fatigues in one room of a city morgue in Donetsk. Some of the bodies were missing limbs, a sign that the government had brought to bear heavy firepower against the rebels for the first time.

"From our side, there are more than 50 (dead)," the prime minister of the rebels' self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, told Reuters at the hospital.

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