22 Jan 2015

Blame game as civilians killed in Ukraine bus stop shelling

Up to 13 people are killed when a bus stop is shelled in the rebel-held, east Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Both sides blame each other for the incident.

Warning: the below video contains images some viewers may find distressing.

The strike, which wrecked a trolleybus and smashed windows in nearby buildings, came during an intensification of fighting between Ukrainian soldiers and separatist rebels in Ukraine’s east.

Russian terrorists have today committed another horrible act against humanity. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk blamed Russia and the separatists for the bus attack.

“Russian terrorists have today committed another horrible act against humanity,” he said. “And responsibility for that lays on the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the shelling had been carried out by a “moving mortar”, a mortar that was being moved around Donetsk by car. He added that the “site of the tragedy is behind the boundaries of activities of Ukrainian artillery of such a type”.

We regard this incident as a crime against humanity. Russian foreign ministry

The rebels blamed “Ukrainian punishers”, calling the incident a “terrible tragedy”. The Donetsk People’s Republic website released a list of the dead, saying 13 people had died.

Ukrainian prisoners of war were taken to the site of the shelling and video has emerged of at least one of them being beaten by a mob.

Members of the public shouted “We should not even spare ropes on them”, and “Let me kill him, let me bite his ear off” at the prisoner as separatist fighters pushed the soldier back into a vehicle (see video, below).

Amnesty International said it was concerned by the reports of prisoners being paraded through Donetsk.

“Mistreatment of prisoners constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law,” the charity said.

Russia, which has been accused of training the separatists and fighting alongside them, said in a statement: “We regard this incident as a crime against humanity, blunt provocation aimed at undermining efforts to seek a peaceful solution of the Ukrainian crisis.”

On Wednesday the Ukrainian military pulled back from positions in the hotly contested Donetsk airport and sixteen Ukrainian servicemen were captured by rebels from the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Mr Lysenko said: “Donetsk airport is very big territory, and the main terminals, both old and new, are destroyed already.

“No massive buildings which can be defended remain there. Some buildings our soldiers are defending remain in the territory of the airport. Thus, we cannot say that the airport was completely left by Ukrainian servicemen.

“The airport is a battlefield now where fighting is going on at this second.”