Pro-Russian separatist commander Arsen Pavlov, known by the nickname "Motorola," was killed in the city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, on Sunday.

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Arsen Pavlov, known as "Motorola," was killed by a bomb in Donetsk

Separatists and Kiev blame each other for the killing

Eastern Ukraine remains volatile, despite diplomatic efforts to broker peace

CNN  — 

A high-profile separatist commander has been killed in a bomb blast in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, separatist officials said.

Arsen Pavlov, known by the nickname “Motorola” because of the type of communication devices he used, was killed Sunday by a bomb planted in the hallway of the building where he lived, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s news service reported, quoting local authorities.

Pavlov led the separatist “Sparta Battalion” fighting in eastern Ukraine.

He and his militiamen had been fighting against the Ukrainian military since the beginning of the crisis in the region in 2014, according to DPR’s news service.

“It is a great loss for all of us,” Denis Pushilin, DPR Council chairman is quoted as saying. Pushilin called Pavlov a “hero” and blamed “a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group” for his death.

Ukraine’s Security Service confirmed Pavlov’s death, the country’s news agency Ukrinform reported. Ukrainian Army General Mykola Malomuzh said an internal confrontation among separatists could be behind his killing, according to Ukrinform.

Separatist authorities said an investigation is under way but Ukrainian special services operating in DPR are suspected to be behind Sunday’s blast.

Pavlov married his fiancée in 2014 – at the height of the fighting in eastern Ukraine – wearing military fatigues, while his bride wore a white dress and a pistol shoulder holster.

Civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine highest since August 2015

Years of negotiations over peace in eastern Ukraine have born little fruit. Tensions between separatists and government forces remain high and shelling from both sides is reported daily.

Nearly 10,000 people have died in the violence since the beginning of the crisis, according to UN figures.