Ukraine conflict: Shells ravage suburb of Donetsk

July 12, 2014

A suburb of the rebel-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk has come under heavy bombardment, a day after the army suffered some of its heaviest losses.

Apartment blocks were hit as shelling continued through the night and into Saturday in Marinka, west of the city.

Pro-Russian rebels said 30 civilians had died in government shelling while the government reportedly accused the rebels of shelling Marinka themselves.

On Friday, a rebel attack in Luhansk region killed at least 19 soldiers.

President Petro Poroshenko vowed to retaliate, saying: “For every soldier’s life, the militants will pay with tens and hundreds of their own.”

The rebels, who declared independence in Donetsk and Luhansk in April, retreated towards the city of Donetsk last week after a government siege of their symbolic stronghold, Sloviansk.

More than 1,000 civilians and combatants are believed to have died in the fighting since April.

The EU slapped travel bans and asset freezes on 11 rebel figures in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

The list includes the self-declared rebel prime ministers of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, Alexander Borodai and Marat Bashirov.

‘Rocket attacks’

Rebel commander Igor Strelkov said in a video statement (in Russian) on Saturday that the government had shelled Marinka with Grad and Uragan multiple rocket systems

Rockets fell on residential areas as well as factories, he said.

Journalists based in Donetsk said Ukrainian forces appeared to have shelled Marinka, Reuters news agency reports.

However, Ukrainian security spokesman Andriy Lysenko accused the rebels of shelling Marinka themselves, with Grad rockets, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.

Quoting eyewitnesses, he said the damage there was “enormous” and people were still trapped under rubble. He also accused the rebels of preventing rescue workers from reaching the scene.

The official mayor of Donetsk, Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, said on his website that he had received reports of explosions from the direction of Marinka and public transport had stopped running to the area.

Government forces in Luhansk reported new fighting on Saturday in the area where the soldiers were killed early the previous day, apparently while their column was at a halt.

Unofficial reports suggest the death toll from Friday’s attack, in which the rebels are said to have used Grad rockets, was much higher.

An unnamed officer who survived the attack told his wife by phone that more than 50 soldiers had been killed, Ukraine’s Unian news agency reported on Friday.

On 13 June, rebels in Luhansk shot down a military transport plane, killing all 49 military personnel aboard – the army’s worst single loss to date.

Mr Lysenko also said government warplanes had killed 1,000 rebels in attacks in the Donetsk region on Friday while the rebels denied suffering any significant losses.

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