Ukraine evacuates children from war zone
UKRAINIAN authorities rushed to evacuate children from parts of the war zone Monday in the wake of a deadly rocket attack on the port city of Mariupol and as fresh clashes hit the country’s east.
Another nine people were reported killed, including seven soldiers, as Kiev accused pro-Russian rebels of firing more than 100 times over the past day on both Ukrainian military positions and civilian areas.
Fighting was said to be particularly intense near the government-held city of Debaltseve, halfway between the rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk, where the military claimed separatists were attacking with tanks and rocket launchers.
International concern has mounted over the escalation in the conflict that has left a September truce in tatters, with the rebel leader in the Donetsk region last week pulling out of peace talks and vowing to capture new territory.
His comments came a day before a barrage of rocket fire on Saturday killed 30 people in a residential area of Mariupol, the last major city in the country’s two separatist provinces still controlled by Kiev.
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the rockets were fired from the direction of separatist-held areas, though rebels distanced themselves from the attack.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, initially claimed Saturday to have launched an offensive aimed at taking Mariupol, but later denied ordering an actual invasion of the industrial port on the Sea of Azov. Mariupol remained calm on Monday.