Ukraine shelling sparks Donetsk jailbreak

  • 11 August 2014
  • From the section Europe
Media captionVideo footage shows where the shells hit the building

Five artillery shells hit a high-security prison on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine last night, sparking a riot in which 106 inmates escaped, local officials say.

One prisoner was killed, five were injured and two guards were also hurt.

Ukrainian government artillery has been pounding areas on the outskirts of the city, held by pro-Russian separatists.

Ukraine's prison service says 34 of the escaped inmates have now been returned to the prison.

The authorities are trying to track down the others.

The prison service describes the situation now as "challenging but manageable". It says the prisoners have been moved to a shelter and are getting psychological help.

City council spokesman Maxim Rovensky said the fugitives included people jailed for murder, robbery and rape.

Image caption A prisoner tramples on grass left smouldering after the shells landed
Image caption Inmates gathered in the prison yard on Monday, but dozens escaped during the shelling
Image caption Ukrainian artillery pounded parts of Donetsk on Sunday
Image caption This prisoner shows what appears to be a shell fragment

Aid corridor?

Ukraine is considering the possibility of allowing a humanitarian mission into the area, as residents struggle without power or reliable sources of food.

Many are facing great hardship in Donetsk and the city of Luhansk, taking refuge in basements and bomb shelters.

Russia has proposed creating an aid corridor but the government in Kiev and Western powers fear that it could be used as a pretext to bring Russian military forces across the border.

Some 1,500 people are estimated to have died since the conflict began in April.

Rebels sparked the four-month battle when they overran large swathes of the east and declared independence from Ukraine.

The fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have fled to Russia.

The unrest has also prevented a full investigation of the MH17 air disaster, in which 298 people died.

The Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on 17 July and the remains of many of the victims are still to be recovered.

It is strongly suspected that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian rebels. Russia and the separatists have blamed the Ukrainian military.