Explosion hits capital of breakaway Ukrainian region (VIDEOS)
A massive explosion in the center of Donetsk on Friday evening was the work of a car bomb that detonated outside the government headquarters, the authorities in the breakaway region in eastern Ukraine have said.
Multiple reports of the blast came shortly after both Donetsk and Lugansk, the two regions that seceded from Ukraine in 2014, announced an evacuation of civilians into Russia, fearing an attack by the Ukrainian military.
RT correspondent Roman Kosarev, who is on the ground in Donetsk to report on the evacuation, has also confirmed that he heard the explosion.
Images from the scene show a completely destroyed car in the parking lot about 100 meters or so outside the seat of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, with significant damage to other vehicles nearby.
The targeted vehicle belonged to the head of the DPR People’s Militia, Denis Sinenkov, who told Interfax that he was not injured in the blast.
Tensions are currently running high in eastern Ukraine, as the two breakaway regions – known colloquially as Donbass – allege the government in Kiev is planning a military operation to take their territory by force. They cite a sharp increase in incidents along the armistice line, including the use of artillery, mortars, and tanks by the Ukrainian military. Ukraine has been denying any plans to take the regions by force.
Meanwhile, the US and NATO have accused Russia of intending to invade Ukraine, though their predicted start date of February 16 came and went without incident. Moscow has repeatedly rejected the accusations as ‘fake news’. Both sides have accused the other of planning a ‘false flag’ attack to create a pretext for a military operation.
The authorities in Donetsk are asking residents to remain calm, stay on alert, and limit movement around the city as much as they can.