‘They were praying’: Kiev forces’ shelling kills 3 worshipers as churches burn
In Monday’s attack on St. John Kronstadt Orthodox Church on the outskirts of Donetsk, the shelling “caused a fire, and the church was totally burned with its utensils and vestments,” wrote Georgy Gulyaev, the press secretary of the Donetsk Diocese, on his Facebook page.
In Saturday’s attack, also on a St. John Kronstadt Church, this time in the city of Kirovskoye, in the Donetsk Region, the church was totally destroyed during an all-night vigil, Gorlovsky and the Orthodox Diocese said on its website. The shell hit the roof of the building, which crashed onto worshipers.
“People were praying. Three of them were killed. We lost our loved ones,” a local woman told RT.
Among the victims of the attack was one of the church wardens and two parishioners. Several people were injured as well, added the Diocese.
A video released by the Diocese showed that there is no roof and most of the church’s walls have been turned into rubble.
“I am asking [Kiev forces] – come to your senses! Look where you are sending your sons,” a local man told RT. “Where? What are you doing? Look at these ruins.”
The same shelling also hit the local hospital, killing two people and injuring several more.
Shelling in the Donetsk region has plunged the area into a worsening humanitarian crisis. For four long weeks the residents in Yasinovata, a town of 37,000 people 20 kilometers from the city of Donetsk, have been left without drinking water or food.
“There are 60 people in our shelter,” a local woman told RT’s Paul Slier. “We are trying to feed everyone. The conditions are terrible. There is no water, we've been waiting for it for a long time.”
Some of the people have nowhere to go, as their relatives have been killed.
“I’m all by myself. My son was killed,” a sobbing old woman told RT. ”Thank God they brought us bread and medicine.” She described to RT how it is to live under the attacks of the Kiev troops.
“We were on the ground and the missiles were flying in every
direction. We thought this is the end,” she added.
The residents held in their hands bread received from a local bakery.
“Everybody knows that this is for humanitarian purposes, for hungry people, look at our bread, it’s perfect," Natasha, a local baker, told RT.
The shelling by the Ukrainian military reached the Petrovsky and Kievsky districts of Donetsk on Tuesday morning, resulting in three deaths, according to the city council.
Also early Tuesday, self-defense forces fought with Ukrainian troops in Illovaysk, Elenovka and Yasinovata.
Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine began in April after people in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities and demanded federalization of the country.
According to UN figures, over 2,000 people have so far been killed and over 5,000 wounded in the fighting.
With heavy fighting under way in the crisis-torn country, the distribution of humanitarian aid from Russia started in besieged cities in the Lugansk Region on Monday.