News / Europe

Fighting Breaks Out in E. Ukraine City of Donetsk

An armed pro-Russia separatist walks with a woman fleeing shelling near the train station in Donetsk, Ukraine, on July 21, 2014.
An armed pro-Russia separatist walks with a woman fleeing shelling near the train station in Donetsk, Ukraine, on July 21, 2014.

Explosions rocked the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk Monday as government troops sought to reclaim control of the rebel stronghold, marking the first heavy fighting since Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down last week.

Intense shelling was reported near the rail station. The AFP news agency said that terrified civilians were fleeing the city, though local authorities warned them to stay indoors.

Sergei Kavtaradze, a leader of the pro-Russian separatists, said Ukrainian government forces were trying to break into the city with at least four tanks and armored vehicles.

Donetsk, UkraineDonetsk, Ukraine
Donetsk, Ukraine
Donetsk, Ukraine

Reuters journalists also saw two rebel tanks heading toward Donetsk railway station. A battle raged near the station, a hub of this eastern Ukraine city of 1 million.

CNN reported heavy shelling, with plumes of smoke rising on the city’s outskirts.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said the operation was in progress but would not comment on reports of troops entering Donetsk. “The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation is continuing. We are not about to announce any troop movements,” Vladyslav Seleznyov said.

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

Armed men in camouflage could be seen on the streets near the train station, and the sounds of explosions were audible.

Crash investigators arrive

As international horror deepened over the fate of the remains of the 298 victims of the air disaster, the first international investigators reached rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on Monday.

Three members of a Dutch disaster victims identification team arrived in Donetsk and were expected to visit a railway station near the crash site where nearly 200 bodies have been stored in refrigerated wagons.

Rescuers said they had found a total of 251 bodies and 86 body fragments at the crash site and a second refrigerated train had arrived.

The shooting down of the airliner on Thursday has sharply deepened the Ukrainian crisis, in which separatists in the Russian-speaking east have been fighting government forces since protesters in Kyiv forced out a pro-Moscow president and Russia annexed Crimea in March.

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Comment Sorting
by: Igor from: Russia
July 21, 2014 10:54 PM
I think the great difference between Kiev troops and the rebels is that unlike those in Kiev, the rebels never kill innocent civilians in Ukraine because they are also poor civilians. Pls look at their faces. So it is very hard to believe that they have down the passenger plane.

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 21, 2014 10:28 AM
Once again we hear that terrorists have ordered the civilians to stay in their homes; we see this situation all over the World, in wars involving terrorists; as usual they want to use the civilians as shields. All the civilians should have left the city's area in which the armed conflict is taking place. It is hard to fathom the rationale of such corrupt morals, that the civilians are ordered to remain in their homes; but given that, indicated in the media, many if not all of the terrorists are from other areas, potentially as far as Chechnya, they would not care what occurs to the civilians they have ordered into their homes.

Not a good situation for the people trapped; in any case, also from media reports, bus loads of families of the fighters, left the towns for Russia, leaving behind mainly, if not most, civilians with no connection to the terrorists or even to the terrorists' cause. Those unfortunate civilians are now left, in a combat area, to their good luck, if they have any; given what is occurring in the Ukraine, not many have any luck at all, not even passengers of civilian airplanes!

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