Deaths mount daily as re­newed fight­ing hits east­ern Ukraine

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Heavy ar­tillery and rockets hit res­i­den­tial ar­eas in east­ern Ukraine Tues­day amid a new out­burst of fight­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratist rebels, leav­ing at least eight peo­ple dead and dozens in­jured.

Salvos of heavy-cal­i­bre ar­tillery were heard through­out the night and late morn­ing in Avdi­ivka, a town on the north­ern out­skirts of the sep­a­ratist strong­hold of Donetsk where res­i­dents have been with­out elec­tric­ity for days. In Donetsk, at least one civil­ian was killed by shrap­nel.

Fight­ing around Avdi­ivka has cut wa­ter and power sup­plies for most of the town and it was left with­out heat­ing in the dead of win­ter. Tem­per­a­tures plunged to mi­nus 18 Cel­sius (0 F) on Tues­day morn­ing.

The war­ring sides blamed each other for the spike in hos­til­i­ties, the worst in months. The Ukrainian gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing evac­u­at­ing 12,000 res­i­dents from Avdi­ivka, Pavlo Zhe­brivsky, head of the ad­min­is­tra­tion in charge of the gov­ern­ment-con­trolled parts of the Donetsk re­gion, said on Face­book.

With no signs of an im­me­di­ate evac­u­a­tion in sight, some res­i­dents went to a lo­cal bus sta­tion, hop­ing to get away from the heavy shelling.

Volodymyr Bas­sak, 67, was wait­ing to catch a bus Tues­day morn­ing to a city some 200 kilo­me­tres north be­cause of the lack of heat in his home.

“The house was shak­ing — (shelling) was re­ally in­tense at about four in the morn­ing,” Bas­sak said as he brushed tears from his eyes. “There were flames along the front line.”

Valery Tretyakov said he was hav­ing tea at home in Donetsk when he heard a big ex­plo­sion and the sound of shat­tered glass. He rushed into the bed­room and saw his wife bleed­ing from a shrap­nel wound to her neck that proved fa­tal.

“It was im­pos­si­ble to stop bleed­ing,” Tretyakov said. “One minute and that’s all.”

The rebels’ Donetsk News Agency also re­ported that four fighters died and seven were in­jured overnight along with three civil­ians.

Olek­sandr Turchynov, chair­man of the Ukrainian Se­cu­rity and De­fence Coun­cil, said on Tues­day that shelling around Avdi­ivka killed at least three gov­ern­ment troops and in­jured 24 more.

AP PHOTO

A Ukrainian sol­dier in­spects a crater left by an ex­plo­sion in Avdi­ivka, Ukraine, Tues­day.

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