Officials call on rebels to surrender
Fighting raged yesterday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk despite a request from the pro-Russian rebels for a ceasefire to prevent a "humanitarian catastrophe". Ukrainian officials demanded that the insurgents surrender instead.
One person was killed and 10 injured in shelling that started early yesterday and continued into the day, Donetsk city council spokesman Maxim Rovinsky told the Associated Press.
In a press conference in Kiev, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said the only way for the rebels in Donetsk to save their lives would be to "lay down their arms and give up". He said the Ukrainian side hadn't seen the rebels show any real willingness to cooperate.
"If white flags come up and they lay down their arms, nobody is going to shoot at them," he said. "(But) we have not seen any practical steps yet, just a statement."
Conditions were clearly deteriorating in Donetsk, the largest rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine. Associated Press reporters heard 25 loud explosions in as many minutes around noon. More than 10 residential buildings, as well as a hospital and a shop, were heavily damaged by shelling overnight, and several buses caught in the crossfire were still burning yesterday morning.
Rovinsky said on the weekend that more than 2,000 residential buildings had been damaged by shelling.
At least 300,000 of Donetsk's one million residents have fled as violence escalates between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists, claiming the lives of over 1,300 people since April, according to the United Nations.