Report: No survivors in Ukraine convoy attack

Aug 19, 2014, 6:50 AM EDT
Pro-Russian rebels inspect the remains of a shell in a residential area of Donetsk, named Voroshyloskyi after it was hit by artillery shelling on August 14, 2014 in Donestk, Ukraine.
Pierre Crom/Getty Images

No one survived an attack on a convoy of refugees in the Luhansk area of eastern Ukraine on Monday, a rebel source has told the BBC:

Details of the attack are still unclear but a Ukrainian military spokesman has said 15 bodies have so far been recovered from the scene. Ukraine has accused pro-Russian rebels of attacking the convoy but they have denied involvement.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting is reported in the centre of Luhansk itself. The government in Kiev said on Tuesday that street battles were taking place and an interior ministry aide told the Interfax Ukraine agency that the military was recapturing the city "block by block".

The city centre was reported to have been shelled on Monday night. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled Luhansk, one of two major cities held by pro-Russian rebels, as Ukrainian government forces advance.

Russian forces are massing on Ukraine's border spurring fears that rising tensions could spill into open war. The Daily Mail writes:

Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine are on the verge of spilling over into open conflict. Ukraine has accused Moscow of pushing more military equipment over the border, including three missile systems.

Rebel separatists Russia is accused of arming shot down a Ukrainian Mig-29 fighter jet, although the pilot managed to eject safely. Moscow continues to deny sending military equipment or personnel into Ukrainian territory, but large convoys have been seen massing on the Russian side of the border. There is growing evidence Russia is directly supporting the rebellion, despite repeated denials from Moscow that seemed to be contradicted at the weekend by rebel leaders.

Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in a recorded video: ‘The following reserves have been gathered: 150 armoured vehicles, of which about 30 are tanks and the rest are BMPs and BTRs [infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers], 1,200 military personnel, who are there now, who underwent training for four months on the territory of the Russian Federation.

They were brought into action at the most crucial moment.’ Photographs taken on Saturday night show Russian forces massed near the main Moscow-Rostov highway, some ten miles from the border with Ukraine. One convoy, including 11 infantry fighting vehicles, was seen heading towards the frontier. Another convoy in the area includes 13 armoured vehicles and large trucks.