Rebels in eastern Ukraine are closing in on the government-held airport in Donetsk in fighting that has killed 10 people and further undermined a shaky truce.
The deaths were reported on Wednesday in residential areas caught in the crossfire between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army.
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the country’s national security council, said that the airport was still under control of government troops who were “brilliantly carrying out their duty” and holding their ground.
However, Alexander Zakharchenko, a rebel leader, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the rebels control 90 percent of the airport, which has been the focus of the worst fighting in the region for weeks.
“In two, or maximum three, days the Donetsk airport will come under our control,” said Zakharchenko.
Fight for the airport
While it was impossible to get within close range of the airport because of the ongoing fighting, an AP reporter in Donetsk saw that artillery fire hitting the airport was coming from government-held positions outside the city – an indication that the airport may no longer be under Kiev’s control.
The reporter also saw the bodies of three people killed after a shell exploded in a school courtyard in a residential neighbourhood near the airport.
The city council of Donetsk said that in total four people had died, and that about 70 children were in the school at the time, but that all those killed were adults.
Soon after the school was hit, another shell fell on a bus stop nearby. The AP saw two people who had been killed at the bus stop as well as another person on the crosswalk nearby.
A minibus that was also hit was still burning hours later. The Donetsk city council said the number of killed at the bus stop was six, and that several people were wounded.