Published: Wed, February 01, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

UN Concerned Over Escalation of Fighting in Eastern Ukraine - Deputy Spokesman

UN Concerned Over Escalation of Fighting in Eastern Ukraine - Deputy Spokesman

Civilians are wounded as the fight between government troops and Russia-backed separatists escalates in Ukraine.

More than 200 coalminers were trapped underground in separatist-held territory after power lines were damaged, but all returned safely to the surface after several hours. The mine is notorious for its safety standards; 33 people were killed there in 2015 by a methane blast. By late afternoon on Tuesday all 207 men were able to get out.

For their part, rebel leaders in Donetsk, who have battled for autonomy from Kyiv since 2014, are reporting major damage to civilian infrastructure, in media dispatches that mirror the USA assessment released Tuesday.

"Shelling fully cut off electricity from the cities of Yasynuvata and Avdiivka".

Almost 10,000 people - more than half of them civilians - have been killed in fighting that erupted in April 2014, a month after Russia unilaterally annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, and two months after lengthy pro-Western protests in Kyiv forced Ukraine's pro-Russian president into exile.

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Chairman of the Ukrainian Security and Defence Council, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the shelling around killed at least three troops and injured 24 more, the Associated Press reported.

The press office of the Ukrainian military operation in the east reported an unspecified number of civilian casualties.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused the Ukrainian government of provoking the hostilities to distract public attention from domestic issues.

Reports said shelling was concentrated around the government-controlled town of Avdiyivka and that many residents of the town north of the separatist-held provincial capital of Donetsk have been left without electricity, water, and heating. It's the deadliest flare up in the east since mid-december despite attempts to renew a ceasefire last month. Temperatures plunged to minus 18 Centigrade (0 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday morning. The Ukrainian government was considering evacuating 12,000 residents from Avdiivka, Pavlo Zhebrivsky, head of the administration in charge of the government-controlled parts of the Donetsk region, said on Facebook.

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