Truce brings no peace for Donetsk residents

2014-09-13 22:30
A woman walks past a damaged house in Donetsk. (Max Vetrov, AFP)

A woman walks past a damaged house in Donetsk. (Max Vetrov, AFP)

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Donetsk - The artillery shell landed after nightfall, blowing out all the windows of a residential building in a district near the airport in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Donetsk.

For people living near the airport - where Ukrainian forces claimed on Saturday to have repelled an assault by pro-Russian separatist fighters - there is no peace.

Although the fighting has diminished since Kiev and the rebels signed up to a ceasefire deal over a week ago, there are still reports of shelling each day around Donetsk.

Residents of the Kievskiy district spent Friday clearing up after the night's bombardment, sweeping debris from the streets and fixing shattered windows.

Tatyana Kogalovoshkina, a 52-year-old social worker, said she cannot leave the area because she has elderly parents, so has been staying with other residents in her building's basement for more than a month.

"There was a strong blast. When it was calm again we went outside and saw that all the windows... were blown out," she said.

"It was a huge strike, we were in the basement and the plaster fell," she added, showing how residents were barricading their windows using chipboard, furniture and cushions.

'Who can we trust?'

Donetsk, the biggest city in the conflict zone in Ukraine's eastern rustbelt, has been in rebel hands for months although government forces have dug in at the airport.

Ukraine's military said it had driven back an attack late on Friday on the airport, which has been left largely in ruins since a major battle in May, just a day after the election that brought President Petro Poroshenko to power.

"Many rebels backed by six tanks launched an assault against the airport on Friday which was heroically repelled by the soldiers," the military said, reporting more artillery strikes early on Saturday.

Residents say their nerves are shattered by the constant barrage.

"Who can we trust now?" says Natalia, 60, as she points to the hole in her yard where an artillery shell landed.

"I can't believe anyone - because people believed [in the ceasefire] and a lot of them came back to Donetsk over the past few days.

"The result - do people have to die here?"

Viktor Smolin, a 59-year-old retired miner, pointed to where a mortar shell tore through another residential block.

"What person could feel this without shivering from fear?" he said.

"When they bomb, fire at women and elderly civilians, what can we feel? We are being killed here, simply killed."

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine

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