KIEV (AFP) – Missile fire hit the battleground town of Debaltseve in east Ukraine Saturday a day after a brief truce allowed hundreds of civilians to flee, government officials said.
“In Debaltseve since 6am this morning rebels have been firing Grad rockets,” Kiev-loyal regional police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said.
Ukraine’s military had previously said that a temporary ceasefire that saw shelling of the beleaguered town halt for several hours Friday could be extended into Saturday.
Kiev’s emergency rescue services said that 753 people, including 81 children were evacuated Friday from Debaltseve and surrounding towns after the government and rebels sent in buses to collect them.
A separatist military spokesman said Saturday that the insurgents were not planning to dispatch any more buses to evacuate civilians due to safety concerns. Only some 40 people opted to head to the rebel side Friday.
Debaltseve – mid-way between rebels centres Donetsk and Lugansk – has been the focus of fierce fighting for over a week as insurgent fighters try to encircle government troops holding the strategic railway hub.