August 19, 2014 - 12:02 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Dozens of people, including women and children, were killed as they fled fighting in eastern Ukraine on Monday, Aug 18, when their convoy of buses was hit by rocket fire, military spokesmen said, according to Reuters.
Ukraine accused pro-Russian armed men of targeting the convoy, which it said was bearing white flags when it was hit near the eastern city of Luhansk. The militias denied responsibility for the attack and one their leaders suggested the incident might never have taken place.
"A powerful artillery strike hit a refugee convoy near the area of Khryashchuvatye and Novosvitlivka. The force of the blow on the convoy was so strong that people were burned alive in the vehicles - they weren't able to get themselves out," military spokesman Anatoly Proshin told Ukrainian news channel 112.ua.
Describing the attack as a "bloody crime," Lysenko said: "A lot of people have been killed including women and children. The number of the dead is being established."
A pro-Russian militia leader denied his forces had the military capability to conduct such an assault, and accused Kiev forces of regularly attacking the area and also using Russian-made Grad missiles.
"The Ukrainians themselves have bombed the road constantly with airplanes and Grads. It seems they've now killed more civilians like they've been doing for months now. We don't have the ability to send Grads into that territory," said Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.
In Kiev, a military spokesman, asked about visual evidence of the attack, said there was video footage on the Internet, although this could not immediately be traced.
"My press officer was on the spot. There is no telephone link with him now but he was there and confirmed that the convoy was travelling under white flags and the terrorists were warned that a convoy with peaceful citizens would be passing," Reuters quoted Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky as saying.
He said the press officer had confirmed that many bodies of victims were burned beyond recognition.