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Human Rights Watch: Ukrainian government forces use cluster munitions in Donetsk

October 21, 2014, 5:30 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Human Rights Watch researchers observed and photographed the remnants of the cargo sections of 16 Uragan and 6 Smerch cluster munition rockets
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©  Алексей Славный/ТАСС

WASHINGTON, October 21. /TASS/. Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in residential areas of eatern Ukraine's Donetsk in early October 2014. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said late on Monday.

“The evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk.”

“During a week-long investigation in eastern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch documented widespread use of cluster munitions in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in more than a dozen urban and rural locations.

“An employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed on October 2 in an attack on Donetsk that included use of cluster munition rockets.”

“It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them.”

“Human Rights Watch found evidence of surface-fired 220mm Uragan (Hurricane) and 300mm Smerch (Tornado) cluster munition rockets. Human Rights Watch researchers observed and photographed the remnants of the cargo sections of 16 Uragan and 6 Smerch cluster munition rockets. Altogether, these 22 rockets would have contained 912 individual fragmentation submunitions. The total number of cluster munition rockets used so far in the conflict is unknown.

The government of Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied using cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine. It has not responded to a letter sent by the Cluster Munition Coalition in July or a letter sent by Human Rights Watch on October 13.”

While not conclusive, circumstances indicate that anti-government forces might also have been responsible for the use of cluster munitions, the organisation said.

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