Fighting near railway station in east Ukraine

2014-07-21 15:39

Donetsk - Fighting broke out near the railway station in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with artillery fire sending plumes of smoke skywards in what separatists said was an attempt by government forces to enter the city they seized in April.

As minibuses brought dozens of rebels to the area in the centre of the city, people fled. The rebels said Ukrainian forces were trying to force them out, days after a Malaysian airliner was brought down about 60 km away.

"It is dangerous near the railway station!" the Donetsk city council said in a statement on its website, asking residents in the area to stay indoors.

It said a nine-storey house had been damaged in the shelling and that transport had been halted in the area.

"In the morning there were explosions, people are extremely worried," said a local resident who gave her name as Natalya.

'Anti-terrorist operation'

Donetsk is at the heart of a rebel uprising against rule by Kiev, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to retake the city as part of what Kiev calls its "anti-terrorist operation" against the separatists.

The pro-Western authorities in Kiev accuse the rebel fighters of shooting down the airliner, killing all 298 people on board. The separatists deny they are to blame.

Earlier on Monday, three members of a Dutch Disaster Victims Identification team arrived in Donetsk, hoping to check the remains of some of the victims of the plane crash. A team of Malaysian officials were also due to arrive on Monday.

The downing of the airliner has intensified calls for the fighting to end in eastern Ukraine.

Sergei Kavtaradze, an official of the rebels' self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said there were at least four tanks and armoured vehicles trying to break through into the city.

A spokesperson for Ukraine's military operations in eastern Ukraine said the operation was in an "active phase" but could not comment on reports of troops entering Donetsk because he did not want to give away the Ukrainian strategy.

  • Andrie Langa - 2014-07-21 15:46

    This is Tom &Gerry games.Ukrainian government came after MH17 black boxes because are compromising them.

      David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-07-21 15:57

      Do you understand what a black box does? Why would anyone want the black box? All it does is record incidence that happen to the plane. All it will have on it is what happened in the plane in the last hours or minutes before the plane went down... So it will have no evidence against Ukraine or Russia or the Rebels. So why would anyone be worried about what it recorded it can not implicate anyone...

      Raymon McNelly - 2014-07-21 16:13

      Perhaps it indicates that the plane was hijacked and blown up in mid air with a bomb.

      David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-07-21 16:28

      Maybe... But there is evidence showing a rocket fired at it...

  • Andrie Langa - 2014-07-21 15:50

    Russians are much wise then the western leaders.The minister of defence came with scientific evidences of their innocence. cant just point fingers without evidences meennn...

      Mark Harold Jones - 2014-07-21 20:37

      What scientific evidence is that Andrie?

  • Khutso Bokaba - 2014-07-21 15:57

    Putin is offering support! Hitler

      Raymon McNelly - 2014-07-21 16:13

      You are just a brainwashed toad. Go back to sleep, sheep.

      donovan.hurn - 2014-07-21 19:46

      Look who is talking Raymon, brainwashed like the rest of Russia yourself

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