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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine Passenger Bus Hit in Shelling, 10 Killed

by VOA News January 13, 2015

Ten civilians were killed Tuesday when a shell or missile hit a bus south of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukrainian authorities reported.

The press center for the Ukrainian government's military operation against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine reported that 10 people were killed and 13 injured when Russia-backed rebels fired from a Grad multiple rocket launcher at a military checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha and one of the missiles struck a passenger bus.

Ukrainian media quoted the chief of the Donetsk regional interior ministry department, Vyacheslav Abroskin, who answers to the central government in Kyiv, as saying the bus was hit by a rebel artillery shell as it was passing through the checkpoint.

Russia's Tass news agency quoted the defense ministry of the separatists' self-declared Donetsk People's Republic as denying rebel forces were involved in the incident, which it called a Ukrainian government 'provocation.'

News of the incident came as a planned meeting of the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia on the Ukraine crisis was postponed after the foreign ministers of the four countries met Monday in Berlin but failed to make progress on implementing last September's cease-fire agreement between Kyiv and the rebels.

The summit was to have been held Thursday in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Under the September truce deal, both sides agreed to a cease-fire and the withdrawal of fighters and military hardware from the war-torn east. But international monitors say more than 1,300 of Ukraine's 4,700 war fatalities have occurred since the so-called Minsk Protocol was signed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week all 12 points of the September truce agreement had to be fully implemented before Western governments would lift sanctions slapped on Russia for its widely-perceived support for the rebellion.

On Tuesday, NATO's military commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, accused Russia of continuing to support separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine, expressing concern over Moscow's "continued resupply, continued training and continued organization of the forces east of the line of conflict."

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has escalated in recent days.

Earlier Tuesday, before news that the bus had been hit by shelling south of Donetsk, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that fighting in the region had greatly intensified, and that the air traffic control tower at Donetsk airport had collapsed as a result of rebel shelling. He said one Ukrainian soldier had been killed and 10 injured in fighting over the previous 24 hours.

Donetsk city officials reported that two civilians had been killed and three injured during the same period.

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