|Des Cambaliza |||Aug 19, 2014 11:14 AM EDT|
(Photo : Alexander Demianchuk ) People gather at a temporary tent camp set up for Ukrainian refugees outside Donetsk, located in Russia's Rostov region near the Russian-Ukrainian border, August 18, 2014.
Ukrainian separatists attacked a convoy of refugees escaping their war-torn homes, killing dozens of Ukrainians, reports said on Monday.
The attack took place in the eastern part of Ukraine, south of Luhansk's regional capital, Ukrainian military spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said. He added that the fatalities included women and children.
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Lysenko did not give an estimate of the deaths, but said that the attacks could be among the most brutal for civilians since the rebels started attacking towns in April.
The most notable atrocity done by the pro-Russian rebels to date was the shooting down of a passing Malaysia Airlines plane, killing 298 passengers.
The U.N. human rights office estimated that at least 2,086 deaths have occurred in the conflict. Of these deaths, more than half took place only in the last two weeks, it added.
The highway where the recent attack took place connects Ukrainian territory Luhansk in the east to the Russian border. The separatists control this area while Ukrainian forces fights to regain it from them.
The same route will take the controversial convoy trucks containing Russian aid inside the country if Ukraine allows entrance at all.
Lysenko called the rebels "terrorists" who committed a bloody crime, citing the recent incident. According to sources, the separatists used heavy weapons and Grad rockets supplied by Russia.
The separatists' leaders, however, denied that the attacks on the refugees were done by his men.
Aleksandr Zakharchenko of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic further denied that his people's arms were supplied by Russia. He said that they were taken from the Ukrainian army as "trophy" weapons.
Russia does not acknowledge direct military connections with the Ukrainian separatists.
But Ukraine's apparent advancement on the rebels puts pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who again demanded that Ukraine call a cease-fire, reports said.
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