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9 Jun, 2015 23:14

Residential districts ‘intensively’ shelled near Donetsk airport

Residential districts ‘intensively’ shelled near Donetsk airport

The Ukrainian army has shelled the Donetsk airport area, hitting nearby residential districts, an RT correspondent reports. Local authorities confirmed several building were on fire following the attack.

RT’s Ilya Petrenko is in Donetsk, where smoke could be seen rising in the northern outskirts of the city in the east of Ukraine following the attack on Tuesday. The sound of the blasts occurring could be heard all the way from the city center, he said.

Citing the local emergencies ministry, the RT correspondent also mentioned that there were at least five blazes in the city and fire brigades were unable to promptly tackle them due to the on-going shelling.

Smoke can be seen all the way from the city center, blasts can be heard here too. pic.twitter.com/jfyq1LokUK

— Ilya Petrenko (@ilpetrenko_rt) June 9, 2015

The Ministry of Defense of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) confirmed that “Kremlevsky prospect, Artemovskaya street, Putylkovsky bridge and the airport are being intensively shelled”.

READ MORE: Renewed shelling hits residential areas in eastern Ukraine (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The mayor’s office said in a statement, “the atmosphere in the city is alarming. Residents of Kievsky, Kuybyshevsky and Petrovsky districts have reported hearing gun fire and heavy weapons being used.”

Apartment buildings have been damaged following direct hits from the shelling; with at least four flats catching fire, according to the DPR Ministry of Defense. lvan Prokhodko, the head of the Kuybyshev and Kiev districts administration told Interfax, “Luckily there were no victims.”

Fire brigades can't reach the five sites because of ongoing shelling coming from the #airport area.

— Ilya Petrenko (@ilpetrenko_rt) June 9, 2015

The press center for Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine confirmed that their military positions had come under fire on 30 occasions on Tuesday, while “populated areas were also being shelled.”

READ MORE: Kremlin: Timing of Kiev-provoked Donbass tensions linked with looming EU summit

Tuesday’s shelling follows a spike in violence, which erupted at the beginning of June. Moscow believes this is connected with the upcoming EU summit, which is to take place in Brussels on June 25-26. At the conference, the EU is reportedly set to broaden economic sanctions against Russia for its ‘perceived’ role in the Ukrainian crisis.

On June 3, the large-scale shelling of settlements in the Donetsk region claimed the lives of 19 people, which included both civilians and rebel militias. Local officials also added that over one hundred people were injured in the attacks.

On Saturday, a market in the north west of Donetsk was hit by artillery shells. The head of the district’s administration said that one person was injured following the assault.

Meanwhile, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin told a Security Council meeting on Friday that he is alarmed by the escalation of fighting in the region by Ukrainian government forces.

“If Kiev is allowed to further delay the implementation of the necessary political steps in regards to the Donbass, the situation could again spin out of control and lead to unpredicted consequences,” he said.

Churkin added that he had noticed “frustration” concerning Kiev’s “flagrant violation and blunt ignorance of the Minsk agreements” even among countries in the West who are “loyal to Kiev.”

The Ukrainian conflict began last April, when Kiev sent regular forces and volunteer battalions to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in a crackdown operation against local rebels, who refused to recognize the country’s coup-imposed authorities. According to the latest UN estimates, over 6,500 people have died as a result of the conflict.