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A broken down truck near the northern Donetsk town of Novoselovka ended with a shootout that claimed the lives of two Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) agents Tuesday, according to Russian language news accounts.

A news report which appeared in tsnesor.net said that a two truck convoy traveling from Konstantinovka and bound for rebel-held Stakhanov was stopped when one of the vehicles broke down near a checkpoint.

An inquiry by several Ukraininan police manning the checkpoint led to the drivers and passengers in the vehicles opening fire, killing two unidentified SBU agents. The Ukrainians were forced to withdraw.

The suspects then opened fired on their own vehicles destroying both vehicles and the contraband aboard. The vehicles, according to one of the drivers were carrying candy, liquor and soft drinks without the required tax stamps.

The report also said that the suspects had suffered losses in the shootout, but did not elaborate.

Smuggling and organized crime in rebel held areas is pervasive even though officials in both Lugansk and Donetsk have yet to acknowledge the problem, likely because it exists on both sides of the line of contact.

The shootout in Mukachevo two weeks ago which claimed the lives of four men was over smuggling routes in Transcarpathia to rebel held areas, as well as to other nations.

Gennady Moskal, newly appointed governor of Transcarpathia region claimed on Monday that smuggling was almost completely stopped two weeks after the Mukachevo shootout. The news outlet which reported Moskal's remarks said that he had met with border guard officials with Hungary and Romania concerning smuggling, apparently two nations across whose border smuggling into Ukraine takes place.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at grurkka@gmail.com and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraina by clicking here.


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