Artillery vehicle

Five dead, 22 injured in Ukrainian artillery attacks in Donetsk, Russian-backed separatists say

Separatist officials and Russian news agencies reported several Ukrainian artillery strikes, including at a market. Russian news agencies later reported that a shell fell on a maternity ward in the city of Donetsk, starting a fire and prompting staff to send patients to the basement.

None of the attacks have been independently confirmed and it could not be determined whether they took place. There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv to the reports.

Russian news agency TASS said separatist officials reported five deaths. Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin has pledged to mobilize more Russian forces to counter Ukraine.

Russian agencies reported that a child was among those killed and at least 22 people were injured. Monday evening, quoting a Russian correspondent, they reported the bombing of the maternity ward.

“Thanks to the quick action of the staff, there were no injuries,” the RIA news agency said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said officials had seen reports of the attack on the hospital.

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a market following a recent bombardment in Donetsk

Firefighters extinguish a blaze following a recent shelling at a market in Donetsk

A view shows a destroyed car following a recent bombardment at a market in Donetsk

“It’s extremely disturbing,” Dujarric said. “Any attack on civilian infrastructure, especially health facilities, is a flagrant violation of international law.”

The Donetsk News Agency earlier showed pictures of burning stalls at Maisky Market and several bodies on the ground.

“We had a hit in the market – there were a lot of people here,” Yan Gagin, a self-proclaimed government adviser to the separatists, told the RIA news agency from the market.

Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that the main immediate reason for what he describes as a “special military operation” in Ukraine is to protect Russian-speakers in the two Donbass regions from persecution and attacks by Ukraine.

Ukraine regularly denies carrying out attacks on the two regions, the people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, where separatists seized large swaths of land in 2014.

Ukraine and its Western supporters say Russia is waging an unprovoked war against a sovereign state.

Russia denies targeting civilian sites in its military action, although the incursion claimed thousands of lives and destroyed entire Ukrainian towns.