Fierce fighting between government forces and separatists are going on in Luhansk

Wed, 20.08.2014 15:18

KYIV/Ukraine in arabic/ Government troops have regained one district in the city. "The Ukrainian Armed Forces liberate Luhansk quarter by quarter", the advisor of Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Zorian Shkiriak, who had just returned from the area of the anti-terrorist operation, said.

The city centre of Luhansk was reported to have been shelled on Monday night and video filmed hours earlier appeared to show deserted streets.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled in recent weeks as Ukrainian government forces have advanced on Luhansk. The city is suffering acute shortages of water, food and electricity.

At the same time, reports said a convoy of armoured vehicles from Russia had managed to enter Luhansk to help the rebels.

The claim was made by prominent Ukrainian military journalist Dmytro Tymchuk, who said there had been "dozens of pieces of of military hardware".

Russia has repeatedly denied sending any weapons across the border.

The separatists have lost control of several small towns in both regions in recent days.

Residents in the center of Donetsk fled as the rebel headquarters came under shell fire. Cars with gunmen sped through red lights.

Clashes were also reported in Makiivka, east of the city, hours after government forces said they had taken control of most of the town of Ilovaisk, to the south-east.

A prominent pro-Ukraine commander, Semen Semenchenko, suffered shrapnel wounds when his unit came under mortar attack in Ilovaisk. He is considered one of the most popular of the volunteer commanders in the country.

An aide to Ukraine's interior ministry, Anton Gerashenko, said that 14 Russian TV channels had been banned from cable networks in Ukraine.

The channels, including Russia Today and Life News, had been "broadcasting propaganda of war and violence", Mr Gerashenko said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from an attack on a convoy of refugees in the Luhansk area on Monday has risen to 17, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko says.

Details of what happened are unclear. Ukraine has accused pro-Russian rebels of attacking the convoy with Grad rockets and mortar rounds on a road between Novosvitlivka and Khryashchuvatye.

A rebel source, however, told that everyone in the convoy was killed when two buses carrying wounded civilians came under fire from foreign mercenaries fighting for the government.

Russia says President Vladimir Putin is due to meet Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko next week, as the number of civilian casualties rises.

Pro-Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk declared independence from Kiev and proclaimed their own people's republics after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March.

More than 2,000 civilians and combatants have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine's government sent troops to put down the rebel uprising.

Ukrainian military officials say at least 17 civilians were killed when a convoy of refugees came under mortar and rocket fire south-east of Luhansk on Monday.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming the rebels and sending Russian soldiers into eastern Ukraine - a claim denied by the Kremlin.

In a separate move, the Council of Europe, to which Ukraine and Russia both belong, urged member states on Tuesday to "step up humanitarian aid" in eastern Ukraine, saying that the number of displaced people and refugees was "increasing rapidly".


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