The city of Donetsk has been subjected to the largest-scale Ukrainian artillery attack since the region rebelled against Kiev in the wake of the 2014 armed coup in Kiev, local officials have said. A cathedral was among the buildings hit by Kiev’s artillery.
Ukrainian troops fired 40 rockets from Grad multiple rocket launchers at several neighborhoods of central Donetsk at around 7 a.m. local time (4 a.m. GMT), Mayor Aleksey Kulemzin said on social media. Several conventional shells also hit the city both before and after the barrage, he added.
Official images following the strikes show damaged buildings and cars among widespread destruction. The central dome of a cathedral was hit, judging by the photos. At least one projectile landed near a school, while others struck homes, shops and a children’s playground, according to the mayor.
Kulemzin said at least five civilians were hurt during the shelling. Some are reportedly trapped under the rubble, with emergency crews now working to get them out, TASS news agency reported, citing the city rescue service.
On Wednesday, a watchdog recording attacks by Ukrainian troops on targets in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics estimated that over 4,500 civilians had been killed in the two regions since mid-February, when Kiev intensified its strikes, before the Russian military intervention.
Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in late February, citing Kiev’s unwillingness to implement a peace plan that would have allowed reconciliation with the two breakaway regions. Russia has since incorporated both provinces into its territory, after people living there voted in referendums for a transition. Kiev rejected the vote as a “sham” and pledged to continue hostilities against Russia.