The defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Vladimir Kononov told Gazeta.Ru newspaper: “A covert group was operating, who have been arrested. No more comments,” he said, commenting on the tram stop shelling.
Residents of Donetsk’s Leninsky district heard shelling at about 08:30 local time. Windows in the buildings near the stop were blown out. Locals say they believed their district to be “a quiet place” and were shocked by the “tragedy that happened when people were heading to work.”
A trolleybus was also hit in the shelling, and eye-witnesses said there were victims inside, as well as bodies lying at the stop, local media report. Conflicting reports, citing medical sources, indicate there may have been 13 deaths.
The OSCE has sent a group of its experts to the scene of the shelling in Donetsk to collect information, spokesman for the organization’s special monitoring mission to Ukraine Michael Bociurkiw told RIA-Novosti.
“Yes, we are aware [of what happened]. We have sent our patrol group to evaluate the situation. Taking into consideration the security situation, we are to present our assessment in the nearest future,” Bociurkiw said.
DPR’s Emergency Ministry told RIA-Novosti: “As the shelling hit the “Kuprina street” stop, nine people were killed, including a driver of a car that was parked nearby. The car caught fire... Another ten people were injured and taken to hospitals.”
Russia will raise the issue of the deadly Donetsk shelling on Thursday at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council, the country’s permanent representative said, as cited by RIA-Novosti.
The shelling comes shortly after the meeting on Wednesday of the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Berlin, where they tried to progress with a solution to the Ukrainian crisis.
On January 13, twelve people died and 13 more were injured as a bus was shelled in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Denis Pushilin, Donetsk People’s Republic representative at Minsk talks, said the attack may have been staged by Kiev.
The incident took place near a Ukrainian military checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry in the Donetsk region, Vyacheslav Ambroskin, said.
Initially, 10 people were killed in the shelling. A woman reportedly died in hospital later in the day, according to the Donetsk regional administration which cited health officials. The regional administration also reported that 18 people had been injured.