DONETSK, August 24 (RIA Novosti) – A mourning ceremony for the victims of the Ukrainian Army’s recent missile strikes against Donetsk was held Sunday in the besieged city as fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported on the ground.
The service for the dead was timed to the Independence Day celebrations across Ukraine. In the capital city Kiev, the country’s main holiday since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was marked with a military parade in a bid to boost the nation’s morale amid the exhausting operation in the southeast.
For months Donetsk has been the scene of the heaviest fighting between the local independence supporters and pro-government troops that have been pounding indiscriminately militia’s positions and residential quarters across the city.
The commemorative ceremony in Donetsk came in the wake of reports about the rising death toll of the Army’s missile attacks against the city. On Saturday, a France Press correspondent in Donetsk said he had seen the bodies of six killed civilians, including a child.
The service was held near a memorial to Nazi victims in downtown Donetsk. Several dozens of people released black balloons into the air and laid flowers at the memorial as artillery fire was heard in the distance. City authorities also cancelled all Independence Day celebrations.
Four months of heavy fighting in the east of the country has killed a total of 2,000 people and wounded over 5,000, according to UN reports, with authorities in Donetsk saying civilian casualties account for about a half of those deaths.