UK & World News

  • 11 August 2014, 14:04

Inmates Escape As Shell Hits Ukraine Prison

An artillery shell has hit a high-security prison in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, as government forces step up their assault to retake the city from rebels.

One inmate was killed and 106 escaped from the jail, the city council said in a statement. Three other prisoners were injured.

The building - a "strict regime" prison for dangerous criminals - is located on the city's western outskirts.

The fugitives include people jailed for murder, robbery and rape, officials said.

The Ukrainian military says it is preparing for a "final stage" of taking back Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russia separatist rebels.

Over the past week, Ukrainian government forces have intensified their push, and exchanges of rocket fire have become a daily feature of the fighting. 

City council spokesman Maxim Rovensky said at least 10 homes, shops and garages were hit by overnight rocketing, and said 20,000 people are living without electricity.

Reports also said that many lacked food and water.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said total of 568 government forces have been killed and 2,120 service personnel wounded since the fighting started in early May.

UN agencies say more than 1,100 people have been killed, including troops, rebel fighters and civilians.

At the weekend, rebel leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko said the city was surrounded by government troops, and that pro-Russian forces are willing to accept a ceasefire.

Russia, which the Ukrainian government and the West say is supporting the rebels, has repeatedly called for a humanitarian mission into the east of Ukraine.

But Moscow has been accused of using it as a pretext for moving troops into the country.

According to the White House, US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the crisis during a phone call on Saturday.

The leaders agreed that any Russian intervention "even under purported 'humanitarian' auspices, without the formal, express consent and authorisation of the government of Ukraine is unacceptable, violates international law, and will provoke additional consequences".