Ukraine: Pro-Russian separatists and Kiev blame each other for fatal shelling of hospital in Donetsk

At least two shells landed near a hospital in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, killing between three and 15 people. The shells created a huge crater in the ground in front of Hospital no 27.

A woman reacts outside a damaged hospital in Donetsk after at least two shells landed nearby(Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
A man stands outside a damaged hospital, with the covered bodies of victims of shelling seen in the background(Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
A woman cries near the body of her son, killed during shelling at a hospital in Donetsk's Tekstilshik district(Dominique Faget/AFP)

The Russian news agency RIA quoted rebel sources as saying four people had been killed. "Ukrainian forces fired a Uragan [missile] in the area of the store. People were killed," a rebel soldier nicknamed "Father" said.

The Ukrainian general prosecutor's office blamed the separatists for the attack. "According to preliminary information from four-10 people were killed. The terrorists have once more used weapons against the civilian population of Donetsk region," it said.

Pro-Russian rebels arrive at the hospital(Dominique Faget/AFP)
An elderly woman walks past damage inside the hospital(Maxim Sergeev/Reuters)
A local resident surveys damage done to a hospital in Donetsk(Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
A local resident removes broken glass from a window at a building near the hospital in Donetsk(Maxim Sergeev/Reuters)

In the wake of the shelling, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from Ukrainian cities and a truce for at least three days to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians from the conflict zone.

A multiple rocket launcher system of the Ukrainian armed forces is seen behind bushes on the outskirts of Artemivsk in the Donetsk region(Sergey Polezhaka/Reuters)
Pro-Russian rebels drive a self-propelled anti-aircraft Strela-10 system in Donetsk(Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

The nine-month-old conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 5,000 people. Violence has surged since the latest peace effort collapsed last Saturday (31 January) in Minsk, Belarus, with no agreement.

More than 200 people have been killed in the past three weeks, according to the United Nations. Fighting has been particularly intense around the town of Debaltseve, a major rail and road junction north-east of the city of Donetsk, which government troops are still holding.

A soldier holds a Ukrainian child while evacuating citizens from Debaltseve(Manu Brabo/AFP)
An elderly man is helped by a Ukrainian Army soldier and a citizen as people are evacuated from Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region(Manu Brabo/AFP)
A woman cries as she holds a child on a bus waiting to flee the military conflict in Debaltseve(Sergey Polezhaka/Reuters)

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