Published time: May 18, 2014 20:17
The Ukrainian army shelled the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Sunday as fierce clashes erupted between Kiev’s military and self-defense forces who stopped the APC convoy from entering the city, local activists said.
A military convoy comprised of six APCs approached the city from the northwest and began shelling it, a member of the self-defense forces told RIA Novosti.
“About 10 fighters wearing black uniforms with no markings, as well as several people in camouflage, were sitting on top of each combat vehicle” as the convoy tried to enter the city, another member of the self-defense forces told Itar-Tass. He believes National Guard and Right Sector militants were among them.
Powerful explosions and intense shooting, including shots from large-caliber guns, could be heard even from the city center, according to witnesses. Residents also said that a civil defense siren was heard in the city.
Several self-defense checkpoints have been reportedly attacked by Kiev’s army, and a factory in the suburbs was set on fire.
One resident was injured at a bus stop as the Kiev military shelled the city. Self-defense members helped her emerge from the debris.
“The public transport stop is 40 meters from a nine-story apartment building. If the shell would have hit it, the consequences would be much more tragic,” the self-defense member said, as quoted by Itar-Tass.
A resident of Kramatorsk posted a video on YouTube showing that his ninth floor apartment had been shot at. The footage shows a bullet hole in his window and another one in a wall.
Water and gas lines have also been shelled, and all of the residents of Kramatorsk have been left without water, self-defense coordinator Maksim Vlasov told RIA Novosti. Some are now also without gas, local media reported, citing Karmatorsk deputy Mayor Andrey Bessonny.
A resident told RT that he believes the Kiev military used “grad multiple launch rockets or howitzers” to shell the city.
“I served in the army and during my service I have never heard such shots. They are getting louder and louder. A checkpoint is behind the house and one or two workshops of the factory are burning. Fifteen people are staying under my window, all with rifles and grenade launchers, “ Kramatorsk resident Evgeny added.
Meanwhile, loud blasts and repeated heavy gunfire have been heard in the eastern city of Slavyansk, not far from Kramatorsk, according to freelance journalist Graham Phillips, reporting for RT.
The fighting comes after the Thursday ultimatum made by Donetsk self-defense forces, warning Kiev that if Kiev’s troops did not withdraw from checkpoints in the Donetsk region within 24 hours, they would be taken by force.