KYIV (Reuters) – Local authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol accused Russian forces on Friday of opening fire on a car on its way to evacuate civilians from a vast steel works, killing a fighter and violating a ceasefire agreement.
Russia did not immediately comment on the Mariupol city council’s statement. Moscow has denied targeting civilians and had offered a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant with Ukrainian fighters.
“During the ceasefire on the territory of the Azovstal plant a car was hit by Russians using an anti-tank guided weapon. This car was moving towards civilians in order to evacuate them from the plant,” Mariupol city council said in an online post.
“As a result of the shelling, 1 fighter was killed and 6 were wounded. The enemy continues to violate all agreements and fails to adhere to security guarantees for the evacuation of civilians.”
Reuters could not verify the city council’s statement.
Russian forces have occupied Mariupol, leaving the city’s last defenders – and scores of civilians – holed up in the Azovstal plant.
The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have helped evacuate some of the civilians and Ukraine said a new attempt was under way to evacuate the civilians on Friday.
Andriy Biletsky, a founder of the Azov Regiment that is fighting in the steel works, wrote in an online post that there was renewed fighting at the plant and appealed for help evacuating them.
“The fighting is continuing, the shelling does not stop,” he wrote in a post in which called for a petition to be drawn up to increase pressure on the United Nations and global leaders to help evacuate fighters as well as civilians.
“Every minute of procrastination is the life of civilians, soldiers and the wounded,” he wrote.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage)