Ukrainian military blames rebels for rising civilian death toll

World Today

Ukraine civilians A woman holds her baby as they evacuate by bus from the town of Makeyevka on August 18, 2014. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

The death toll in eastern Ukraine is climbing sharply. The Ukrainian military claims rebels targeted a convoy, killing dozens of civilians who were fleeing the fighting near the separatist stronghold of Luhansk. CCTV America’s Kate Parkinson reports.

Ukrainian military blames rebels for rising civilian death toll

The death toll in eastern Ukraine is climbing sharply. The Ukrainian military claims rebels targeted a convoy, killing dozens of civilians who were fleeing the fighting near the separatist stronghold of Luhansk. CCTV America's Kate Parkinson reports.

Follow Kate Parkinson on Twitter @katecctvnews

A military spokesman said the force of the hit on the convoy was so strong that people were burned inside the vehicles. Kiev accuses rebels of deliberately targeting the vehicles and says many people killed, including women and children.

So far, there has not been an independent confirmation of the attack. Rebels have been quick to deny that they were behind the strike, and challenged Kiev authorities to produce evidence. They accused Ukrainians of regularly bombing the road where the incident allegedly took place.

Humanitarian conditions in the other rebel stronghold of Donetsk have been deteriorating. Most of city has been without water for 24 hours.

Rebels accuse Ukrainian military of deliberately striking power lines the supply a water pumping station to cut the water supply to this city of 1.5 million. Many in the area have already fled and it’s likely more will follow as living conditions get harder.

The rebel leadership said Monday that it is setting up military tribunals and bringing in the death penalty for a string of offenses including treason, desertion, espionage, attempts on the lives of the leadership, and sabotage. Some are reading this as a sign that the rebel force may be facing deep problems in its ranks.

Kiev’s military says desertions and defections pose a big problem for the separatists, and that it’s hitting their morale. The rebels claim their forces are being bolstered by more arms and fighters trained in Russia.