Rockets reportedly kill fleeing civilians in eastern Ukraine as Kyiv, insurgents swap blame

Rockets struck and killed many civilians fleeing the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, burning some of them alive inside their cars, the Ukrainian military said on August 18. The exact number of civilians killed is unclear.

The government’s report of an attack, which took place in an area of heavy fighting near Luhansk, could not be confirmed immediately.

Anatoly Proshin, a spokesman for the Ukrainian government’s north operational command, blamed the Russian-backed insurgents for opening fire on the convoy of refugees with rockets from a Grad multiple launch missile system near the cities of Khriaschuvate and Novosvitlivka. He said the convoy was flying white flags as it made its way out of town.

“The terrorists committed a bloody crime at 9:40 this morning. Near Luhansk, on the road between Khryashchuvate and Novosvitlivka, the mercenaries used Grad systems and grenade-launchers imported from Russia to shoot at a column of civilians attempting to leave the combat zone,” National Security and Defense Council spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said at a briefing in Kyiv. “Many people died, including women and children. The number of casualties is currently being determined.”

However, rebel leaders say Ukrainian government forces were behind the deadly rocket attack. Konstantin Knyrik, a rebel spokesperson, dismissed Kyiv’s claims, telling Russia’s Interfax news agency “such claims are pure propaganda.”

To read the full story, visit The Kyiv Post.