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14 Jan, 2015 21:07

OSCE, Kiev, Donetsk, Moscow 'to create joint group' to probe deadly bus shelling

A joint commission including the OSCE, Ukraine, Russia, and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) will start an independent investigation Thursday into the shelling of a passenger bus near the town of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine, which killed 12 people.

The commission will conduct an independent investigation into the Tuesday tragedy, which will be carried out alongside the official one, Denis Pushilin, DNR's representative at the Minsk talks, told RT on Wednesday.

The commission, which was proposed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will begin its work on Thursday.

OSCE representatives have visited the site of the deadly shelling, inspected it, and met with witnesses and security officials, Deputy Chief of the OSCE mission Alexander Hug told journalists on Wednesday.

READ MORE: 12 killed, 13 injured as shell hits bus near Donetsk, E. Ukraine - reports

Passengers of the bus died from impact with objects which had high kinetic energy, Hug said. He added that the mission is so far unable to identify the type of weapon used, and can only say that the incapacitating fragments were of different sizes.

"All parties are interested in a quick and thorough investigation," Hug said.

In its spot report, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission said that three hours after the incident the group visited the site and witnessed that the “bus had shrapnel damage consistent with a nearby rocket impact, estimated by the SMM to be 12-15 meters from the side of the bus.”

On Tuesday, the Donetsk Prosecutor’s Office launched a separate investigation into the shelling. It qualified the case as a terrorist act, saying the attack was “targeted” and “carried out by a Grad multiple rocket launcher using over 40 shells,” according to its press service.

Kiev swiftly blamed Donetsk militia of carrying out the attack. DNR officials have rebuked the accusations, saying that it was technically impossible for them to have shelled the site.

Pushilin told RT on Tuesday that according to his data, the closest DNR artillery crew was stationed 50 kilometers from the site which is "out of the operational range of the artillery of our militia."

He said that DNR has no access to the site, as it is located on Kiev controlled territory, adding that he does not want to speculate or accuse anyone before the investigation brings any results.

Following the attack, videos were posted on social media websites showing the moment of the shelling and the aftermath.

Donetsk airport fighting

Heavy fighting is ongoing at the war-torn Donetsk airport, which used to handle some five million passengers a year before becoming one of the key points in the standoff between the Ukrainian army and local militia.

There have been conflicting reports coming in on Wednesday.

"At the moment, the airport is under fire. Our troops continue to hold position, the Donetsk airport is under the control of the Ukrainian military," the spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Andrey Lysenko, told Interfax-Ukraine.

READ MORE: Situation in Ukraine ‘nearing humanitarian catastrophe’ – Amnesty Intl

Meanwhile, DNR’s Pushilin said the Ukrainian army is pulling out from the airport area.

"The Ukrainian military is leaving the territory of the Donetsk airport, our military is making this possible [creating corridors]. This is a gesture of good will on the part of the DNR,” Pushilin told Rossiya 24 TV channel.