Battles Break Out in Ukraine After Protesters Killed in Fire

Tensions run high in Odessa after dozens died in a fire occupied by pro-Russian protesters.
9:07 | 05/05/14

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Transcript for Battles Break Out in Ukraine After Protesters Killed in Fire
This is a special room. Battles breaking out government forces and Ukraine taking on pro. Russia militia. But the militants firing back and shooting down another helicopter and capturing the pilot. Here's and a rising at an all out civil war over when I'm Dan -- in New York tensions are running high in Ukraine. The police station in the port city of Odessa taken over by pro Russian groups after forty activists were killed. In a firefight excuse -- in a fire on Friday. And the fighting escalated in eastern Ukraine in the city's levee on reports -- a number of government troops and pro Russian fighters have been killed. The BBC's serie -- -- is in eastern Ukraine with this report. A school shrine and the focus a fresh -- More than fifty -- Russian activist died here in Endesa. As this building was torched during this clashes with groups loyal to -- Ethel the -- funerals will be held today. It has infuriated people in -- in Ukraine. But locals have been reinforcing their defenses. Like fury most people who live here and Russians because. Western but he insists that is not being controlled by Moscow hoped that they just didn't feel that -- represents them meet you gives them with -- We just want to leave this week -- -- but no one listens to us now on recess at this moment they seem to be key -- Europe. That's fine but I don't want to -- in Europe. Think they're preparing for a fight -- Donna ready to found this pro Russian -- in control of the local police had courses. I just don't know what that -- -- this month the whole crowds demanding to know how they could help defend that town. The -- is angry aggressive defiance. These locals didn't see the army is -- says. As barricades like this one hand out all along this main street -- of Paez and rubble. That have been pulls up because the people I've been speaking through a -- weren't that Ukrainian -- will be heading in -- But even now in some spots normal life does go on saying has been enjoying a long holiday weekend with his son but she's -- This region -- on independence the week. Something saying -- tells -- the Russian speaking majority he wants she believes -- is trying to stop knots. Thank you lost the reins at but the most who -- -- -- we're afraid to open not less -- -- their friend and not by the virus just started. So things will be peaceful hand I'm sure that -- you -- -- elite deep divisions in Ukraine and every day of fighting Christ and become. -- that BBC news in -- in Ukraine. The fighting in Odessa with surprising to residents there shocked that the violence they saw in other parts of the country could happen in their city. Today the building where -- fire broke out and killed more than forty activists is now a shrine to honor the dead. BC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Terry Moran. Took a look inside. This is the trades union. This place has become more people coming to lay flowers like hand. -- prayer and grieve for those who died here. You get that sense in this place of catastrophe that may be a turning point in Ukraine's his. On Friday may second dozens of people pro Russian demonstrate. Retreated into the building after -- day of classes they barricaded themselves in. Outside. Can only be described as a mob of pro Ukrainian government support they've been fighting. No one exactly knows how the fire started or Molotov cocktails going back -- what we do know. Is that people here who desperately trying to get out some of them were help out some of them were prevented from getting. Dozens of people died. Pregnant women young people old people a local politician. Trapped inside. The burning house -- it has now become a new front in the conflict is Terry -- Terry Moran ABC news -- Odessa Ukraine. We're joined now from Odessa in the south of Ukraine by ABC news chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran. And -- Odessa. Unlike don't yet skins of young -- is not in Ukraine's mostly pro Russian east in in geographic terms how much of escalation -- the fighting. In this southwestern port city. -- there hasn't been much fighting small clashes until last Friday it would catastrophe struck. This city and Ukraine as all this building behind me here. Burned out has become a shrine it may be a turning point in this Ukrainian conflict because in that building. On Friday dozens of people. Pro Russian demonstrators were trapped inside. And burned a lot. Why what can only be described. As a mob outside here where where I'm standing that trap them inside some tried to help but most. Continued to throw Molotov cocktails in that building. It went from people jumped out they beat them that that he can see it and forty some people were killed here. What it is turned into as a shrine. You can -- the emotion the grief. The anger -- even the fear about what happened here and what it represents for Ukraine. -- that this is the deadliest round of fighting since the former president Viktor Yanukovych have fled the country. Back in February white touch off -- this fighting. What would set it off was it was a gradual. Increase -- tensions among the communities here but the immediate. Spark of what happened here war. March from -- soccer game and the people. We're pro Ukrainian government. March through town. They started clashing with pro Russian demonstrators who had set up here for a while the pro Russian demonstrators fell back there were overwhelmed. They retreated into this building for safety. And then what -- what must be described as a mob. Surrounded the building. Fires were started or Molotov cocktails going both ways. And the tragedy that resulted has has changed the mood of this city. And and change the dynamic of the conflict in Ukraine altogether. Do we have any clear indication if these pro Russian fighters if they have any clear or any obvious ties to the -- government in Moscow. That is very hard say that -- the assessment of the people who were talking to and in fact we talked to a woman whose son was killed in this building. They weren't agents. Moscow she says that they were -- local. Oh deficit -- citizens who feel that the government and -- doesn't represent them they aren't. Happy with what's happened in -- and -- the indications are that the fighting that started here that ended in this tragedy was not a -- Paul. We will -- it was a local fight that turned it to -- a calamity. -- by the Ukrainian prime minister last before we let you go is blaming the Russians for this but he also suggested that local police. Would be investigated as well but what level of control -- Kiev have or or even lack thereof outside -- that immediate sphere. Well there's there's there's a question that that they -- government control over. Eastern Ukraine is virtually nonexistent. And what the police rule here in this tragedy was is very murky you hear all kinds of conflicting stories. On the ground here. As far as -- -- -- -- it is is concerned there's one thing to pay attention in his state he has blamed. Moscow and food for what happened -- that building behind. He has blamed the police here for not doing their job what you don't hear him do. Is -- the people that you can see all over YouTube we're standing out here throwing Molotov cocktails and of that building while I was -- fire. He doesn't blame the murderers. And statesmanship is about telling the people who are your followers that they've done wrong. And it is quite possible that -- -- -- not. Saying. -- here in Odessa. People who support his government. Some of them did something unspeakable evil that he doesn't say that it's probably hurting -- country along. ABC's Terry Moran in Odessa Terry thank you for that appreciate your time. Of course you can keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- -- -- the story for exclusive updates on the go. For non down -- and New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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