Mortal attack kills 3, injures 5 in Donetsk ahead of truce
A mortar attack has killed three people and injured five in the center of the violence-wracked city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“We can say with certainty that it was the work of a raiding party. A mortar was used,” the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic stated on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, two more people were killed as a powerful explosion rocked Donetsk.
The huge blast took place before a press conference by the leader of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, Oleksandr Zakharchenko.
The explosion hit an area near the residence of Zakharchenko at Park Inn Hotel, where he was due to meet journalists.
The reports also say that the city’s chemical plant and gas pressure gauge were damaged in clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army.
The latest deadly clashes came as the newly inked ceasefire deal is planned to go into effect at 2200 GMT on February 14, midnight Kiev time on February 15.
East Ukraine ceasefire deal
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko were in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on February 11-12, for marathon talks over a ceasefire deal.
The negotiating sides agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s front lines and a ceasefire to begin from February 15.
Back in September 2014, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk signed another ceasefire deal in the same city. However, the truce was violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces and thus failed to bear any practical result.
Source of conflict
Donetsk and Luhansk are two mainly Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine, which have been hit by deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush the pro-Russians.
In May 2014, the situation in the two flashpoint regions started to worsen as residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation in a referendum.
The fighting has taken a heavy toll on thousands of people. More than 5,500 people have died and some 12,200 wounded in the conflict, the UN says. Around 1.5 million people have been also forced from their homes over the past months of turmoil.