Fragments from a Ukrainian missile that was shot down fall in rebel-held city centre, killing civilians, separatists say.
At least 16 people have been killed and 23 wounded by fragments of a downed Ukrainian missile in the city of Donetsk, according to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Tochka-U missile was intercepted over the rebel stronghold on Monday but parts of it landed in the city centre, Russia’s TASS news agency cited local separatist leader Denis Pushilin as saying.
Pushilin, the head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, said residential areas were damaged.
“People were waiting in line near an ATM and were standing at a bus stop,” he told the Rossiya 24 network.
“There are children among the dead,” Pushilin added, telling the network the casualty count would have been higher had the missile not been downed.
The death toll or the incident could not be independently verified in the territory that has been controlled by pro-Russia rebels since 2014. There was no immediate comment by Ukrainian authorities.
Reports of the attack came as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators were scheduled to meet for a fourth round of talks since Russia invaded its neighbouring country on February 24.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said the objective of his war in Ukraine, which he has dubbed a “special military operation”, is the “demilitarisation and denazification” of the Ukrainian government.
He claims Kyiv has been carrying out a “genocide” against the Russian-speaking population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as the Donbas, where the Ukrainian army has been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014. Ukraine denies the allegation.
The conflict that erupted after the rebels seized parts of the Donbas and self-declared the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics has killed more than 14,000 people, including soldiers, civilians and rebel fighters.