© AP Photo/ Petro Zadorozhnyy
LUHANSK, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – Hundreds have died in artillery attacks on eastern Ukraine’s key city of Luhansk as government troops continue to lay siege to the militia stronghold, according to a senior official of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic.
“As of today, the death toll has climbed into the hundreds. Hundreds of homes have been torn down, including more than a dozen of apartment blocks and hundreds of private houses,” LPR Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Nikitin told RIA Novosti Saturday.
Luhansk has been left without running water, electricity and phone communications for 20 days as government troops continue to besiege it, pounding indiscriminately militia positions and residential quarters in and around the city. All deliveries of food, medication and fuel had long been stopped due to heavy shelling.
In a recent incident, a mortar round launched by government forces hit a water distribution facility in the inner city instantly killing fifteen people who had come to replenish their supplies, local authorities told RIA Novosti.
City morgues are filled with shelling victims, and the staff find it hard to remove all bodies from the streets leaving some of them exposed to elements for days.
Four months of fighting in Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk region has left more than 2,000 people dead and 5,000 wounded, with hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes, according to UN reports. More than a half of the refugees have been crossing over into Russia.
On Friday, a humanitarian aid convoy from Russia rolled into eastern Ukraine after being checked by Ukrainian customs officials. A total of 280 trucks delivered grain, baby food, water, medicine and generators to the war-torn region, including Luhansk.