Prisoners Break Out as Ukraine Fighting Rages

Government steps up Donetsk offensive

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 11, 2014 3:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than 100 prisoners have fled a high-security facility after it was hit by shelling in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, local authorities say. A jail riot was precipitated by a direct rocket hit that claimed the life of at least one inmate, says a city council spokesman, who adds that at least 10 homes, shops, and garages were hit by overnight rocketing and 20,000 people are living without electricity. Ukrainian government forces have intensified their push on Donetsk over the last week and have succeeded in surrounding it. Exchanges of rocket fire have become a daily feature of the fighting.

The city council spokesman says he believed 100,000 people had left the city of 1 million in the past week alone—adding to the 300,000 who were already estimated to have fled. He says the local government is working hard to preserve access to gas, electricity, and phone service and "avoid a humanitarian crisis." Kiev has taken a hard line against the rebel forces and promised it will only relent when the separatists surrender. A rebel ceasefire offer over the weekend was supported by Russia but met warily by government officials in Kiev and in the West, who expressed concern that the move could be aimed at increasing international pressure on Ukraine to allow in a Russian aid mission.

Smoke from shelling rises over a residential neighborhood in Donetsk yesterday.
Smoke from shelling rises over a residential neighborhood in Donetsk yesterday.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian firefighters hoses down the smoldering remains of buses after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine yesterday.
Ukrainian firefighters hoses down the smoldering remains of buses after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine yesterday.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A man runs out of a destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014.
A man runs out of a destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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