Officials: Ukraine airstrike kills civilians

At least 11 killed after apartment comes under attack in rebel-dominated Donetsk region, officials say.

    Officials: Ukraine airstrike kills civilians
    Kiev has not verified who was behind the strike, but called it a "provocation" aimed at discrediting armed forces [AP]

    An airstrike has demolished an apartment block in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 11 civilians, regional officials have said.

    The four-story apartment building in the town of Snizhne appeared to have been hit in two separate spots on Tuesday, causing the collapse of several tiers. A nearby house was also destroyed.

    Health officials in the rebel-dominated Donetsk region, where Snizhne is located, said 11 people were killed in the strike.

    Resident Igor Chernetsov, who lost his wife in the attack, said: "I heard an explosion, and suddenly I was thrown out of the apartment, out of the fourth floor."

    Rescue workers managed to pull one small child with broken legs alive from the rubble, as grieving residents sifted for belongings.

    Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed during the uprising that erupted in Russian-speaking east following the ouster of Moscow-backed president in February.

    Authorities said that 258 servicemen have been killed in the fighting and 922 injured.

    Pro-Russian rebels pinned the attack on the Ukrainian air force, but government officials denied that the strike was carried out by its military.

    'Russia involvement'

    Ukraine's defence ministry insisted the bombing could not have been carried out by the air force as none of its planes were on sorties at the time of the strike.

    The country's Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko called the incident a "cynical and bloody provocation" aimed at discrediting the armed forces.

    Ukraine has over recent days repeatedly accused Moscow of involvement in attacks on its troops and supplying pro-Russian separatists with weaponry.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, elected in late May, refused on June 30 to extend a 10-day unilateral ceasefire which he said had been breached repeatedly by the separatists. He renewed the government's military campaign to break rebel resistance.

    On Monday, Ukraine's defence minister said that a military transport plane, taking part in the campaign against separatist rebels, had been shot down by a rocket which was "probably" fired from Russian territory, the presidential website said.

    Tougher sanctions

    Vasyl Zvarich, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman, also suggested Russian involvement in the Snizhne attack.

    The EU last Saturday targeted Ukrainian separatist leaders with travel bans and asset freezes, avoiding fresh sanctions on Russian business to avoid antagonising Moscow, its main energy supplier.

    Saying Ukraine had proof of Russian participation in the activities of the rebel fighters, Zvarich said: "We hope that a
    resolution will be taken which will give an objective evaluation of Russia's actions in Ukraine's eastern regions and will also condemn Russia's support for terrorist and separatist groups."

    The accusations come a day before European Union leaders meet to discuss the crisis, where they might consider adopting fresh sanctions against Russia.

    Russia has denied it is helping to fuel the unrest in Ukraine and has in turn accused Kiev-commanded forces of shelling a border town inside Russia. Ukraine denies firing shells onto foreign soil.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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