Ukraine Go Signals Russian Humanitarian Aid Mission, Rocket Fire Targets Refugee Convoy, Dozens Killed

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 19, 2014 4:58 PM EST

Ukraine has finally given the go signal for the Russian humanitarian aid mission to enter the country. However, it has yet to be decided when this will ever happen, as a bus carrying refugees have been hit with a missile near the city of Luhansk. Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian rebels of carrying out the act.

Reuters
Pro-Russian armed men stand at the entrance to the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 30, 2014.

The convoy, carrying dozens of people, including women and children, were fleeing eastern Ukraine on Monday when it got hit by a rocket fire. It was reportedly was bearing white flags.

"The rebels were expecting the convoy and destroyed it entirely," Andriy Lysenko, military spokesman, told journalists. "We haven't been able to count the number of victims ... dozens (were killed)."

Anatoly Proshin, another military spokesman, told Ukrainian news channel 112.ua the incident happened near the area of Khryashchuvatye and Novosvitlivka, and that the force of the blow on the convoy was so strong people were burned alive in the vehicles.

Over at the border with Ukraine, the issues that delayed a convoy of nearly 300 trucks that Moscow said was loaded with humanitarian aid had been resolved.

"Finally, all the issues that had been artificially created for the most part were resolved. Everything has been coordinated with the Ukrainian side and the International Committee of the Red Cross," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday in a televised news conference in Berlin. 

However, the cargo will still need to undergo by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or Ukrainian customs officials, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said.

"After the cargo is examined, it will be handed over for further escort to official representatives of the Red Cross," he said. 

He said it may be later Monday or Tuesday when an initial 30 trucks may be allowed to proceed. 

Meantime, Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, denied their group had anything to do with the attack on the refugee convoy.

"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," he said.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Pro-Russian armed men stand at the entrance to the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 30, 2014.
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