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Russia denies new Ukraine troop incursion as civilian casualties mount


Ukraine

Russia denies new Ukraine troop incursion as civilian casualties mount

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Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels around Donetsk has hit residential areas, claiming more civilian lives.

According to the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, which asserts its independence from Kyiv, one person was killed and six wounded in overnight shelling – bringing the total over a 24-hour period to five killed and 26 wounded.

“After the second explosion we went out on the streets, we heard people crying and yelling, we saw that one person was injured and a woman’s husband was killed,” said Alena Fishenko, wiping away a tear as she surveyed the damage around her neighbourhood.

The pro-Russian rebels said shelling had intensified as pro-Kyiv forces were starting to concentrate large numbers of troops and weapons around the city.

“Everyone in the city heard loud explosions, they were felt in every district, it was all happening around the airport. The Ukrainian armed forces have trained all their weapons on the airport,” said the Deputy Defence Minister for the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, Eduard Basurin.

On Monday it was reported that Ukrainian troops had recaptured almost all the territory of Donetsk airport they had lost to separatists in recent weeks.

New aerial footage has emerged – published by a fundraising collective for the Ukrainian military calling itself “Army SOS” – showing the destruction at Donetsk airport following days of fierce fighting.

In another film, an independent journalist surveyed the ruins of a supermarket next to the airport.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, more than 200 kilometres from the separatist conflict zone further east, six people were treated in hospital for injuries on Tuesday after what police said was a grenade attack on a group of Ukrainian nationalists, which several officials blamed on pro-Russian forces.

The explosion, the latest in a spate of mystery blasts targeting Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities, occurred on Monday evening as people left a court hearing into a firearms case against a young nationalist.

The Russian Defence Ministry denied on Tuesday accusations by Kyiv that Moscow had sent troops into eastern Ukraine, the news agency Interfax cited the ministry’s spokesman as saying.

“Yesterday’s statement from Kiev about the alleged transfer of units of the Russian Armed Forces through the Russian-Ukrainian border is not worth any criticism. This is absolute nonsense,” the agency cited the spokesman as saying.

The tit-for-tat accusations continued, with forces loyal to Kyiv forces claiming rebels had targeted civilian areas.

On Monday both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire amid reports of fighting raging around the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

International monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have reported numerous ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine in recent days.

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