According to wire reports, at least 30 people have died in the shelling of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“Twenty-three people died at the scene, including one child. Another 93 people have been injured, including eight children,” a statement from local authorities said. Another seven people died in hospitals, it added.
Two children – a 15-year old girl and a boy “about five years old” are among the dead, the statement reads.
Ukrainian coup president Petro Poroshenko blamed militias in eastern Ukraine for the shelling:
Bloody murder of dozens of civilians and wounding of nearly a hundred of people by pro-Russian terrorists in Mariupol is not a terrorist attack. It is a crime against humanity that should be submitted to the Hague Tribunal.
Having opened the aimed fire on the residential areas of Mariupol, militants continued a series of terrorist attacks, among which are the shelling of the civilian bus near Volnovakha, murder of people at the bus stop and in the trolleybus in Donetsk, shelling of residential areas of many cities and villages.
I bow my head in the memory of those who died today and earlier.
A spokesman for the Donetsk militia headquarters told RIA Novosti it is not responsible for the attack and has “no weapon systems near Mariupol that would be able to shell that region. Our positions are simply too far away.”
The deputy speaker of the DPR parliament, Denis Pushilin, characterized the incident as a provocation.
“It is all clear, who shelled Mariupol: from which regions they are, from which spot and where the artillery was located. As far as I know, [rockets were] fired by a Grad multiple rocket launcher. Our militia units don’t have artillery capable of reaching the location of the shelling,” Pushilin said.
The BBC and other news agencies, however, report militia leader Alexander Zakharchenko ordered the shelling.
“Today an offensive was launched on Mariupol. This will be the best possible monument to all our dead,” Zakharchenko reportedly said.