GENEVA, November 12 (RIA Novosti) – Cluster munition rockets were fired at the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during an official ceasefire in early October from positions held by the Kiev government forces, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report presented Wednesday.
“The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that these rockets were fired from the government-held positions,” the international rights organization said.
“All the cluster munition attacks in Donetsk took place within one kilometer of a government institution apparently held by rebel forces, which might have been the target,” the report read.
At least five Uragan cluster munition rockets hit central Donetsk on October 2 and 5, according to the HRW report.
The document indicated that the location of submunition impact craters in the city made it “unlikely” that the rockets came from the east, north or west, the areas said to be controlled by militias. “There is only one direction consistent with all the impact craters, and therefore points to use by Ukrainian forces,” the report stated.
According to the paper, a New York Times journalist investigating the sites photographed submunitions and numerous rocket remnants, including fragments of 9N210 submunitions.
During one of these attacks, a 38-year-old Swiss Red Cross worker was killed. His body was found between two craters, which “appeared consistent with cluster munition explosions,” HRW said.
The report cited witnesses saying rockets were fired at Donetsk from the southwest. HRW added that from their different vantage points local residents appeared to describe the same launching spot inside an area under the control of Ukrainian government forces.
According to the report, a HRW team visited the village of Novomykhailivka, southwest of Donetsk, and found the remnants of three Uragan cluster munition rockets and one Smerch rocket that had apparently malfunctioned shortly after launch.
“The presence of these misfired cluster munition rockets clearly establishes the flight path of the attack, confirming that the rockets were fired from a government-held area south of Novomykhailivka,” the document asserted.
The HRW report condemned “the indiscriminate, and unlawful, nature of the use of cluster munitions in populated areas”, saying that ceasefire violations by one party did not excuse violations by the other party.
Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of submunitions. After the launch of a cluster bomb a container opens up and disperses submunitions, making them spread over a wide area endangering anyone in the vicinity. So far, 114 countries have joined a treaty, banning cluster munitions. Ukraine is not a party to the treaty.
A ceasefire is officially still in place between pro-Kiev forces and local militias in eastern Ukraine, though the sides have repeatedly accused each other of breaching the truce.