Kiev and rebels trade blame over shelling

UKRAINE’S military and pro-Russian separatists have accused each other of shelling central areas of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

The rebels claimed one civilian died in the attacks.

Ukraine said the separatists themselves opened fire on the city.

International observers on the ground voiced concern over “a serious increase in tension” in Donetsk.

These were the first such attacks on central Donetsk since a February truce.

The Ukrainian Government, Western leaders and NATO all say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation.

Moscow denies it, insisting that Russians serving with the rebels are volunteers.

More than 6400 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine that began in April 2014 when rebels seized large parts of the two eastern regions. This followed Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula.

Eyewitnesses in Donetsk spoke of heavy bombardment of the central parts of the city on Saturday evening and overnight.

A video posted on the internet allegedly showed shells landing on several buildings and a fire in the city.

“Last time the centre of Donetsk was hit was in February,” senior rebel official Eduard Basurin told Reuters news agency.

“I have no explanation. The Ukrainian side says we shelled ourselves. Do you believe we can shell ourselves?” he added.