OSCE monitors report intense shelling in eastern Ukraine
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says its observers have witnessed heavy shelling in the volatile eastern Ukrainian village of Shyrokyne despite a ceasefire.
“On April 26, the SMM (Special Monitoring Mission) observed what it assessed to be the most intense shelling in Shyrokyne… since fighting began in the area in mid-February 2015,” the OSCE said in a report on Monday.
“For the last 12 hours, and ongoing at the time of this report, the SMM has observed sporadic to continuous exchanges of fire involving small arms, machine gun, rocket propelled grenade and automatic grenade launcher,” the report added.
The OSCE also reported the movement of tanks and armored personnel carriers through the areas controlled by pro-Russia forces fighting the Ukrainian government in the east.
According to the report, OSCE monitors were forced on Sunday to leave their post near the government-controlled village of Berdianske, west of Shyrokyne, following two explosions 300 meters away.
Shyrokyne, located near the key city of Mariupol, has witnessed regular violations of a ceasefire reached in February.
During peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s front lines. The warring sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes.
More than 6,000 people have died in Ukraine’s conflict, the UN says. Around 1.5 million people have also been forced to flee their homes over the past months of the turmoil.