A bomb exploded at the Red Cross Headquarters in Donetsk, Ukraine on Thursday, killing a Swiss citizen. The explosion came a month into a cease-fire between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government.
New York Times reporter Andrew Roth reported the explosion on Twitter and the Red Cross confirmed there was a “tragic incident” in Donetsk, but did not offer any details. A Russian media outlet claims a rebel leader identified the man as a 38-year-old "Red Cross representative." Reuters reports that rebels told them the blast was from a "mortar bomb."
The explosion came amid a weeklong fight near Donetsk airport between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces. The Ukrainian government accuse rebels of breaking the cease-fire to make a push for the airport. Ukrainian forces claim they have control over the airport but a pro-Ukrainian volunteer leader said rebels captured two terminals Wednesday night.
Bomb hit Red Cross HQ in center of donetsk, at least one person dead. One police officer said he supposedly was a Swiss employee of the org.
â€” Andrew Roth (@ARothNYT) October 2, 2014
â€” ICRC (@ICRC) October 2, 2014
The prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, claimed that rebels control “95 percent” of the airport on Thursday. The airport is strategically important for the besieged rebels, who could use it to resupply. Ukrainian forces have used the airport as a base to shell rebel positions in and around Donetsk.
The Red Cross headquarters is reportedly about four miles from Donetsk airport in the center of the city. Donetsk has been devastated by fighting between rebels and government troops. Prior to the war, Donetsk had a population of around 1 million, but at least 30,000 have fled since fighting began in April, according to mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko.
Ten people died on Wednesday when artillery shells hit a school and bus in Donetsk. A Ukrainian government spokesman told reporters that a rebel T-64 tank was destroyed on Wednesday night in attacks on the airport.