Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Woman dies as Ukraine reignites

Reuters, DONETSK and MARIUPOL, Ukraine

Children play in the rubble of their house yesterday after overnight shelling near a Ukrainian army checkpoint outside Mariupol, Ukraine.

Photo: AFP

A woman died and at least four people were wounded yesterday when fighting flared again in eastern Ukraine, jeopardizing a ceasefire struck less than two days earlier between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists.

The accord, brokered by envoys from Ukraine, the separatist leadership, Russia and Europe’s Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) security watchdog, is part of a peace plan intended to end a five-month conflict that has killed almost 3,000 people.

Shelling resumed near the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov late on Saturday night, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had agreed in a telephone call that the truce was holding.

Fighting also broke out early yesterday on the northern outskirts of rebel-held Donetsk, the region’s industrial hub. A reporter saw plumes of black smoke filling the sky near the airport, which has been in the hands of government forces.

“Listen to the sound of the ceasefire,” joked one armed rebel. “There’s a proper battle going on there.”

Early yesterday afternoon both cities were calm again.

Each side insisted that it was observing the ceasefire and blamed its opponents for any violations.

“As far as I know, the Ukrainian side is not observing the ceasefire. We have wounded on our side at various points. We are observing the ceasefire,” the deputy premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Vladimir Antyufeyev, said.

Earlier, Ukrainian forces said they had come under artillery fire east of Mariupol, a crucial port for steel exports. In the days before the ceasefire, they had been trying to repel a big rebel offensive against the city.

The shelling in Mariupol claimed the first civilian casualty since the ceasefire began. Local officials confirmed the death of a 33-year-old woman early yesterday and said at least four other people had been wounded.

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