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VIENNA, October 3. /TASS/. In the wake of mass killings of civilians and a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Didier Burkhalter, the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), urged the warring parties in the conflict-ripped country to immediately stop military activities and observe earlier reached ceasefire agreements, the organization said in its statement on Friday.
“Appalled by the killing of ten persons in a school during shelling yesterday in Donetsk, and by the violent death of a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation today, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, urged all sides to immediately stop fighting, to strictly observe the ceasefire and to implement the measures agreed upon in the Minsk Protocol of September 5 and the related Memorandum of September 19,” the statement said.
The press service of Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) state council said on Thursday that on October 1 at least nine people were killed and another 30 wounded after Donetsk was shelled from the area of the airport, which DPR self-defense forces had been trying to recapture from pro-Kiev troops as they continued shelling residential districts of the city.
One of the facilities reported to be subjected to shelling was public school 57, where several adults were killed. There were no reports about casualties among children at the shelled school.
On Thursday night, Eduard Basurin, head of the Donetsk People’s Republic DPR defense ministry’s political department, told journalists that “a Red Cross representative, Laurent Etienne, a citizen of Switzerland, born 1976, was killed.”
OSCE also said in its statement that Burkhalter “expressed his condolences to the families of the many men, women and children who lost their lives due to the violent conflict.”
“Concerned about the new worrying developments, Burkhalter reiterated that the ceasefire represented a real opportunity for a sustainable de-escalation of the situation; to put it at risk would be irresponsible and deplorable,” the statement said.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire and exchange of captives during the OSCE-mediated talks in Minsk on September 5 that came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his seven-point plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but reports said it had been repeatedly violated since then.
On September 19, the Contact Group consisting of representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE as well as representatives from the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) signed a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of the ceasefire commitments laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics, have claimed some 3,500 lives, according to the UN, forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s embattled southeast and caused massive destruction.