Shelling intensified in Donbass overnight on Wednesday, with Kiev and rebels trading blame for opening fire. The mayor of Donetsk reports at least 6 civilians have been killed, mostly in the south west of the city.
“As a result of today’s shelling, four people were killed in the Kirov district and two civilians were killed in the Kuibyshev district,” Igor Martynov, Donetsk mayor, is cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.
Donetsk health officials report as many as 90 wounded as a result of today’s shelling. According to Chief Doctor at Petrovsky District hospital Igor Rutchenko, “the wounded have been arriving since morning. The total number of wounded is nearing 90.”
Donetsk mayor Martynov, confirmed that 90 people “both militiamen and peaceful civilians” were injured in the Wednesday’s bombardment.
According to Rutchenko, the Ukrainian forces continued shelling the Petrovsky district hospital on Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of the patients.
“The hospital has been without energy for over two hours. The shelling of the area goes on. It was decided to evacuate the victims,” the chief doctor told Donetsk News Agency at around 15:00 GMT.
The Donetsk mayor’s office said that the evacuation of patients has also begun in other hospitals in the shelled Petrovsky district, Intefax reported.
The General Staff of Ukraine has said that in the shelling of Donetsk the Kiev forces were using the heavy artillery, which was previously withdrawn from the frontline under the Minsk peace deal from February.
“In order to stop the enemy’s offensive and to avoid casualties among the troops, the Ukrainian military command – after warning all of its international partners – was forced to use artillery, which was in the rear areas defined by the Minsk agreements,” the General Staff’s press-service said as cited by RIA-Novosti news agency.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) is keeping a close watch on the situation in Donetsk, Michael Bociurkiw, SMM spokesperson, said.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, informed that Moscow has addressed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), asking for a report on the killed and injured in the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Overnight Kiev’s armed forces shelled rebel positions “across the entire frontline”, according to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) defense minister Vladimir Kononov, citing 15 dead, both fighters and civilians.
“They opened fire on our positions across the entire front line: at Shirokino, Elenovka, Maryinka with 120,122 and 125-mm rounds. We have been engaging them for seven hours now,” he added, as cited by the Donetsk news agency.
Донецк. Рынок Сокол. pic.twitter.com/pDRJ4Tip82
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The DNR blames Kiev for “provoking” its troops at around 3:45 this morning.
Kiev denies any provocations and blames the rebels. Kiev’s Anti-Teorror Operation spokesman, Andrey Lysenko, believes a rebel offensive is underway in Donbass.
“At three in the morning, the enemy started firing on our positions near Maryinka and Krasnogorovka, using heavy artillery. They are trying to make advances, but our forces have repelled every attack and are keeping the situation under control,” he said as cited by RIA Novosti.
Donetsk authorities also say, that 37 electric substations in the city were blacked out “due to various circumstances.”
Three mines in Donbass lost power following artillery shelling, trapping almost 1,000 miners underground, according to Eduard Basurin, spokesman for the Donetsk People’s Republic Defense Ministry.
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“The Abakumov and Skochinsky mines lost power, trapping 379 people,” he said, according to Interfax. Later Basurin reported that the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk’s Kiev region had also lost power, trapping a further 576 miners underground.
All of the trapped miners at the Zasyadko mine were evacuated to the surface by mid-day on Wednesday after “electric power supply was restored”, the DNR Emergencies Ministry said.
40 miners have also been rescued at the Skochinsky mine, the ministry added.
Donetsk mayor Martynov says over 3,500 buildings have been damaged since Kiev’s military operation began in Donbass, with over 350 completely destroyed.