Kiev shells Donetsk amid tank battle in city suburb – E. Ukrainian militias

The Ukrainian army attempted to take over Donetsk suburb with tanks a day after two children were killed in the shelling of a local school, rebels allege. This comes as Dutch inspectors, probing the Flight MH17 crash, arrived in the area.

The self-defense forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that have repelled a tank attack on the outskirts of Donetsk, with Kiev forces losing at least five armored vehicles during the battle in the town of Yasinovataya.

“The tanks opened sporadic fire at our positions and residential areas,” the staff of the DPR militias told RIA-Novosti news agency.

According to the self-defense forces, at least two civilians were killed and seven others wounded in the fighting. The attack has been repelled, with the militias now trying to figure out “if it was an offensive reconnaissance and should we wait for a continuation of the operation.”

Meanwhile, Kiev has denied allegations that they had launched a new offensive in the suburb of Donetsk.

"We refute these allegations... We're strictly fulfilling the Minsk [ceasefire] memorandum. We remain within the previously defined boundaries, in our positions. We're not advancing,"
spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov told Reuters by telephone.

DPR’s Interior Ministry said that Kiev’s forces were continuing the shelling of residential areas in Donetsk on Thursday.

“Three homes were hit, according to our records. We also have information on two civilians being wounded. It's all happening in the Kievsky district of Donetsk, in the territory adjacent to the Donetsk airport,” a ministry representative told Interfax news agency.

A man walks past a residential block and a car damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.(Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Several shells hit the Donetsk Railway Transport Institute, with an RT stringer on the scene reporting of four injured civilians.

A large blast was also heard near another school, this time inside Donetsk, again not far from the airport. The projectile exploded in an apartment block next door to School No. 59, cleared by residents beforehand, which avoided casualties.

The incident comes less than 24 hours after two schoolchildren were killed and four injured by an artillery shell that hit a stadium in front of a school near Donetsk.

The children’s rights ombudsman of Ukraine, Valeria Lutkovskaya, on Wednesday appealed to the leaders of Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the southeast of the country, urging them to “perform an immediate and impartial investigation into the deaths and injuries of children.”

READ MORE:2 teens killed, 4 injured in shelling nr Donetsk school, E. Ukraine

The reports of fighting in the area go on, despite Kiev and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk agreeing a ceasefire during talks in Minsk, Belarus, on September 5.

Ukraine has been engulfed in internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s forces began their crackdown on southeastern regions after they refused to recognize the country’s new coup-imposed authorities.

READ MORE:Dutch PM: Investigators access MH17 crash site, collect more remains

The United Nations estimates that the death toll in the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 4,000 people, with over 9,300 wounded.On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Kiev has “grossly defied” the agreements which were reached by Ukraine, Russia, the US and EU during the Geneva talks on April 17.

“Instead of de-escalation, Kiev intensified military action in the southeast of the country, using heavy equipment, which led to thousands of casualties and widespread destruction. Instead of a real constitutional reform and dialogue with its own people some vague backroom maneuvers were performed that have not yet resulted in nothing, but empty promises,” the ministry said in a statement.

In these conditions, Moscow doubts the viability of calls by Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk and other politicians to return to the Geneva format of peace talks, the statement said.

“Wouldn’t it be better for the Ukrainian side to first try to do what has already been agreed and what it promised to do?” the ministry said.

Inspectors prepare MH17 debris for transfer to Netherlands

The Dutch inspectors investigating the Malaysia Airlines MH17 tragedy, have arrived at the Boeing crash site near the village of Grabovo. They were accompanied by OSCE observers and representatives of the DPR’s Emergencies Ministry.

The inspectors examined the wreckage of the plane, putting items they discovered at the crash site into black plastic bags. They also placed special warning signs around the sites with the largest concentrations of debris.

The inspectors and rescue workers declined to make any comments to the press, but a source in the DPR’s Emergencies Ministry told Tass news agency that the transportation of the debris of the plane to the Netherlands could begin as early as Friday.

An Emergencies Ministry member searches for belongings at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Grabovo in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, October 13, 2014.(Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

All 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet died as it crashed in Ukraine's Donetsk region on July 17. The majority of those on board the downed plane were Dutch citizens. Both sides involved in the Ukraine conflict have accused each other of bringing down the aircraft.