Ukraine rebel-held Donetsk sees ‘heavy fighting’

Ukrainian servicemen sit in an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, in the region of Donetsk, on 5 August 2014.

Ukrainian government forces are trying to recapture the Donetsk and Luhansk rebel strongholds.

Heavy fighting has erupted in a suburb of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, local officials say.

(SOURCE)  At least two civilians were killed as government forces battled to retake the city from pro-Russia separatists, Donetsk city council confirmed.

Reports say powerful blasts and shooting were heard in the city.

Ukrainian government forces have made steady gains in recent weeks, encircling Donetsk and another rebel stronghold, Luhansk.

Power cuts

“As of 17:00 (14:00 GMT), there are active military hostilities going on in the Petrovksy district of Donetsk,” Donetsk city council said on Tuesday, quoted by Ukraine’s Unian news agency.

Electricity has been cut in some parts of the district after shells hit substations in the area, Unian added.

It said that gunfire – including heavy weapons – could also be heard in other parts of the city.

Eastern Ukraine has been unstable since rebels declared independence from the authorities in Kiev in April.

A picture shows a burnt buildings in the village of Maryinka, a suburb of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, on 5 August 2014.

Civilians have bore the brunt of fighting in recent days, with many homes and buildings damaged in cross fire.

Galina Bogdanova and her son tidy up her destroyed cafe in the eastern Ukrainian city Slaviansk on 5 August 2014.

The Donetsk region has come under heavy shelling in recent weeks.

At least 1,500 people, both civilians and combatants, are believed to have been killed and thousands more injured since Ukraine’s new government sent in troops to put down the insurrection in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The rebels have since been pushed back to their strongholds in the two cities of the same name, though other pockets of resistance remain.

Separately on Tuesday, Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reports.

It comes after the UN revealed that the number of people fleeing the war in eastern Ukraine to other parts of the country had jumped from 2,600 to 102,600 inside two months.

The figures for early June to early August coincide with a sharp increase in fighting between pro-Russian separatist rebels and security forces.

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