5 killed in fresh surge of violence in east Ukraine
At least 5 people have been killed in a fresh surge of violence in the war-torn regions of eastern Ukraine.
The Donetsk News Agency, which is run by anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine, said on Wednesday that a pregnant woman was among those killed on the frontline by suspected artillery fire from the Ukrainian troops.
Eduard Basurin, a defense chief of pro-Russia forces, said the victims were spending the night in their cars at a checkpoint outside the village of Olenivka, hoping to cross the line in the morning to territories under the control of Ukrainian government.
He added that 10 people were also injured in the incident.
Videos showed a car overturned and others riddled with shrapnel on the side of the road while unidentified forensic experts were seen examining what appeared to be a crater from a mortar shell.
Officials in Kiev denied any role in the incident. Local border guard spokesman, Anatoly Kotsurba, speaking to an independent website, rejected that there was artillery fire from their side, saying a blast occurred at the checkpoint.
The civilian casualties are the worst in months in eastern Ukraine, a vast area which fell into the hands of pro-Russia forces after a series of political developments in Kiev and southeast of Ukraine in 2014.
Checkpoints have been erected at both sides of the border, with reports suggesting thousands of people queuing for hours, if not days, to cross from one side to the other. Ukrainian troops are also accused of making money on giving travelers a fast track while the pro-Russia forces have their own permits and checks.
A truce mediated by Russia, Germany and France in February 2015 has failed to completely halt the violence as sporadic clashes continue between the pro-Russians and Ukrainian troops. Kiev accuses Russia of supporting pro-Russian forces through giving them military equipment and training. Moscow denies the allegations, saying it only backs the ethnic-Russian population against what is said to be the suppression of the Ukrainian government. The violence has claimed the lives of more than 9,100 people.