20 civilians killed by artillery fire in Ukraine

At least 20 civilians were killed Friday in artillery fire in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Government troops continued a day after a Malaysian airliner was downed.

IANS| Last Updated: Jul 18, 2014, 21:49 PM IST

Dnipropetrovsk: At least 20 civilians were killed Friday in artillery fire in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Government troops continued a day after a Malaysian airliner was downed, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard.

A statement issued by the city hall in Luhansk, capital of the region of the same name, said 20 people were killed as the town came under heavy Ukrainian artillery fire.

Meanwhile, the pro-separatist agency Novorossiya said eight civilians died when a shell crashed onto a zebra crossing.

Luhansk suffered a power blackout after an electricity plant was also hit amid fighting in the area between the two sides, and water was running scarce.

The crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 Thursday has not halted hostilities in Donetsk and Luhansk, near the Russian border.

The pro-Russian separatist rebels have allowed free access to international investigators at the crash site in the area of Donetsk, but have denied calling a truce to allow rescue operations.

"For the time being there are no negotiations on a humanitarian truce, we see no interest on the part of Ukraine," the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People`s Republic, Alexandr Borodai, told a press conference Friday.

However, Borodai said the rebels would allow the bodies of the victims to be taken to the city of Kharkov, under the control of Kiev and outside the conflict zone.

The Malaysian Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine during a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it was hit by a surface-to-air missile according to US intelligence services, who said it was unclear from where it was fired.

Both the Kiev authorities and the rebels have accused each other of the downing.

The international community has expressed shock over the tragedy and has urged a full investigation.
The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting on the issue Friday.
This was the second air disaster affecting Malaysian Airlines this year, after another Boeing 777 disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.