SHAFAQNA – At least six Ukrainian civilians were killed and more than a dozen wounded on Tuesday when a long-range Grad rocket apparently fired by pro-Russian insurgents hit an intercity bus. Local police said the rocket appeared to have gone astray after being fired by the gunmen at a checkpoint set up by government soldiers on the main highway connecting the rebel stronghold of Donetsk with Ukraine’s southeastern coast on the Sea of Azov.
Initial toll figures ranged between six and 10 people killed and at least a dozen injured.
A statement issued by the press centre of Ukraine’s military campaign in the east said six people were killed and up to 20 wounded in the incident 35 kilometres (22 miles) southwest of Donetsk.
The head of the regional police department told AFP by telephone that 10 civilians were killed and 13 injured.
Donetsk regional interior ministry department chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said the rocket appeared to have gone astray after being fired at a roadblock set up near the town of Volnovakha.
“It was a direct hit on an intercity bus,” Abroskin said.
“An investigation is in progress. The road between Donetsk and Mariupol has been closed,” he said in reference to a strategic port city controlled by Ukrainian forces.
There was no immediate comment about the incident from any of the main separatist leaders.
The insurgents and Kiev frequently blame each other for stray rocket and artillery fire that kills and wounds civilians in the eastern industrial war zone on an almost daily basis.
Kiev earlier reported the death of three civilians and a soldiers in the past day of fighting.