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Ukrainian forces accused of trying to ‘erase village from the Earth’ after unprovoked weekend assault

UKRAINIAN forces have been accused of trying to “erase the village of Zaitsevo from the Earth” after it was bombarded over the weekend in breach of an official ceasefire.

Head of the Zaitsevo administration Irina Dikun posted footage of the shelling online, accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) of “cold-bloodedly” trying to destroy the village, north of the city of Gorlovka, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The bombardment started in the early hours of Saturday, she said, with Ukrainian army soldiers opening fire in an unprovoked attack.

In one of the videos a resident of Zaitsevo was heard describing the action, reporting that civilian homes were being hit throughout the assault.

Howitzer shells, bullets and missiles rained down on the village, he said, with just 30-second intervals between the shooting.

“It’s almost an hour they have been hammering non-stop on us, whereas from our side no-one fired, even with a slingshot. I didn’t even hear a little pistol fart somewhere,” he said.

“They strike only with big weapons. The smallest among them is automatic grenade launchers, that’s all.

“Oh, and here’s the machine gun that started to work, and that’s probably in our direction…” he added as the sound of heavy artillery could be heard.

The village is on the front line of the Donbass conflict, sitting in between Ukrainian forces and the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), which declared independence in 2014 alongside the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Republic of Crimea (the last being established as a federal subject of Russia following military annexation and a referendum).

The conflict erupted after the 2013-2014 Euromaidan coup, when a movement backed by the EU and the US ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who had rejected an EU trade deal.

Zaitsevo has come under repeated attack by Ukrainian forces despite a ceasefire, which came into effect in December 2016.

Ms Dikun claims that UAF shelling has intensified since the agreement, which aimed to bring about a political solution to the Donbass conflict.

In October she reported that the ceasefire agreement had not reached Zaitsevo, with Ukrainian bombing occurring every night, targeting homes and infrastructure.

“They are destroying us, street by street, in the town. They take one street and destroy it house by house. Then they turn to another street,” she said.

Mayor of Gorlovka Ivan Prikhodko confirmed that at least one house was razed to the ground during the weekend assault.

Earlier this month he accused Ukraine of waging a genocidal war, in “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”

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