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Fighting Resumed in Eastern Ukraine, Causing Civilian Deaths and Property Destruction

August 17, 2015 


A woman is seen through a hole in a damaged residential building, which, according to locals, was caused by recent shelling, on the outskirts of Donetsk, Ukraine, August 16, 2015 A man stands in a damaged residential building, which was caused by recent shelling, on the outskirts of Donetsk, Ukraine, August 17, 2015


Fighting flares in eastern Ukraine, killing nine

DW, August 18, 2015

A spike in violence in eastern Ukraine has claimed nine lives, leaving the truce shakier than ever. The European Union and the United Nations have called on Moscow and Kyiv to observe the ceasefire agreement.

The single day death toll of nine was the highest in over a month. Government troops and pro-Moscow rebels have accused each other of gearing up for a renewed fight that would finish off the already shaky February ceasefire agreement.

"We really strongly condemn this escalation of fighting and we call all sides to cease it and to observe the ceasefire," said European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray on Monday, speaking to journalists in Brussels.

The Donetsk News Agency, which represents the pro-Russian rebels, said Monday that overnight artillery fire had killed three people in the front line town of Horlivka and two in the rebel capital of Donetsk.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, reported two civilian deaths in a suburb of the port city of Mariupol. The Ukrainian Security and Defense Council also reported two troops killed and six injured.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "seriously alarmed" by the upsurge in violence, adding that the ongoing "ceasefire violations and the resulting loss of life are unacceptable."

'Preparation for more military action'

Russia, which has been accused by Kyiv and the West of sending troops and weapons across the border to fuel the insurgency, on Monday turned the spotlight on Kyiv, warning that Ukraine could be readying for fresh fighting.

"We are concerned by the course of events in recent days which very strongly resembles the preparation for more military action," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry criticized the rebels and their alleged backer Moscow for the increase in violence.

"Ukraine calls on Russia to take immediate measures to stop the escalation of the situation," said the ministry in a statement.

In a move that further angered Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea Monday to discuss the region's faltering development under Moscow's rule. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko described Putin's visit as a "challenge to the civilized world."

The United Nations says the conflict has cost more than 6,800 lives since April 2014 and has driven at least 1.4 million people from their homes.

av/cmk (AP, AFP)


Civilians killed as fighting flares in eastern Ukraine

Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:05am EDT

KIEV, Reuters --

Fighting flared between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in two separate parts of eastern Ukraine overnight with several civilians killed by shelling, Ukrainian police and separatist sources said on Monday.

The clashes, near Mariupol in the southeast and at Gorlivka, a rebel-held town, formed part of an upsurge in violence which put further strain on a fragile ceasefire between the two sides.

Regional police in Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, said at least one man and a young woman were killed when rebels shelled the town of Sartan, about 20 km (12 miles) away on Sunday. Several people, including a 10-year-old girl, were taken to hospital with wounds.

"On one street there were five houses which had been really badly damaged by shell fragments. One house had a well-tended garden with vines and a vegetable patch. But the house had been wrecked by shells and I saw an enormous pool of blood," a local news photographer, Mykola Ryabchenko, told Reuters by telephone.

The separatist website, DAN, said at least three people had been killed and four wounded as a result of government shelling of Gorlivka, a regular frontline hot spot northeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

There was no immediate government confirmation of this report.

"They were using heavy weapons. We have three men dead. Another four have various injuries," DAN quoted the separatist mayor of the town as saying.

The upsurge in fighting weighed on the Russian rouble on Monday. It touched a six-month low against the dollar, dropping 1 percent.

It has also drawn expressions of concern among Western governments, who see a ceasefire and tentative peace agreement worked out in Minsk, Belarus, as still the best chance of ending the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

Many artillery guns, tanks and other heavy weapons have been withdrawn by both sides under the terms of the Minsk agreement in February, but deaths occur regularly in sporadic outbursts of fighting.

More than 6,500 people have been killed in the conflict which erupted in April 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea, in reaction to the fall of a Moscow-backed president in Kiev, and threw its support behind separatists in the east.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week expressed "grave concern" to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the rise in separatist attacks and urged an immediate ceasefire, the State Department said.

In a newspaper interview, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the situation was explosive and he urged both parties in the conflict to come together quickly to prevent a spiral in violence.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Angus MacSwan)



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