Horlivka, Ukraine (CBS DC) — A CBS News crew was held for several hours by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine after they were blindfolded and detained at a checkpoint near the city of Horlivka.

“We were blindfolded with cloth and masking tape really quite tightly around our heads so we couldn’t see anything at all,” Correspondent Clarissa Ward told “CBS This Morning” on Friday, over the phone not long after they were released.

She added that the captors were “quite rough and sharp” with her producer Erin Lyall, two male CBS News employees and herself.

“Stopped and diverted at Slovyansk checkpoint by pro-Russian activists. They’re waiting for order- send us to prison or let us proceed,” Ward tweeted. Ward tweeted that one member of the crew “was beaten” but that they were “all ok,” after taking to Twitter around 7 a.m. ET to announce that they’d “been released.”

She told CBS News that there was “a lot of strong anti-American rhetoric” from the pro-Russians, noting that one of the militants said, “if Obama was smart he wouldn’t be supporting Kiev.”

Soon after, a senior commander of the militant forces arrived and ordered the journalists to be released.

Ward told CBS News that the pro-Russian militants separated the male crew members from the women and interrogated them about their nationalities and families while they remained blindfolded. As a veteran foreign correspondent, Ward said that questions like that make “you start to feel a pit in your stomach.”

Ward said that the pro-Russian militants were “emotional” as the Ukrainian military continues its advance on Slavyansk.

— Benjamin Fearnow


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