Swiss aid worker dies in Ukraine shelling

DONETSK, Ukraine – A Swiss Red Cross worker has been killed as shells burst in the heart of Ukraine’s main pro-Russian stronghold for the first time since a September 5 truce aimed at ending Europe’s worst crisis in decades.

Parts of the eastern coal mining hub of Donetsk were on fire after heavy rockets slammed into a 14-storey central shopping centre shortly before 6pm on Thursday.

AFP reporters saw another shell shatter the windows of the Donetsk headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the body of a man lying face down nearby.

A Donetsk emergencies worker told AFP the victim was an employee of the global humanitarian organisation who was based in Geneva.

Rebel websites also posted what they said were pictures of the Swiss man’s passport.

It was not immediately clear who staged the attack.

But it represented a dangerous new escalation in a conflict that has entered its sixth month with the death toll climbing above 3200.

Smoke billowed on Thursday over the northern half of Donetsk as resurgent rebels — backed by what NATO claims are hundreds of elite Russian forces — also tried to stage a final push on the devastated Donetsk airport, their target since May.

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