DONETSK, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian troops have resumed their shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, local citizens told RIA Novosti Friday.
The shelling, which residents say is especially severe Friday, targets the city center where the main self-defense forces are based.
The attack comes a day after a helicopter carrying 12 Ukrainian servicemen was shot down in Slaviansk.
Unconfirmed reports said a second helicopter was downed in the area Thursday.
To escape violence, some 200 children from the troubled Slaviansk, in the Donetsk region, were sent late Thursday to Artek, an international children center on the Crimean Peninsula, local authorities said.
The children are expected to spend at least 21 days at the camp. Their parents will remain in the city while maintaining contacts with the leaders of the groups. The trip has been financed by Russian sponsors and Crimean authorities.
Another group of around 300 children is due to be evacuated to the neighboring Sviatohirsk, where the situation is calm, and also to other cities in the Donetsk and Odessa regions, where there are no armed clashes.
Slaviansk is home to a total of 5,000 pre-school children and children aged between 6 and 17 years, according to the city department for family and youth affairs.
In mid-April, Ukraine’s interim government launched a special operation to crack down on federalists, but failed to gain control over the self-proclaimed independent republics in the eastern part of country.
The operation led to violent clashes and dozens of casualties in Slaviansk, Kramatorsk and Mariupol. Some 48 people were killed and over 200 injured in Odessa, with local lawmakers saying a total of 116 could have died in tragedy. Moscow has described the operation as a punitive act.