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DONETSK/LUGANSK, March 5. /TASS/. Authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) report the Ukrainian military during the night to Sunday continued shelling the republics.
"From 18:00 to midningt, the Ukrainian side launched 642 tank shells, artillery shells of 152 and 122mm calibers, and mines of 82 and 120mm calibers," DPR’s military authorities told the Donetsk News Agency.
Besides, shelling of the Donetsk water purification plant resumed in the morning.
"At 8:30, the Ukrainian military resumed shelling of the plant’s area," the source said. "The military used mortars, the plant’s personnel is now in the shelter."
LPR’s militia reported the Ukrainian military 29 times opened fire on their positions.
"They used 120 and 82mm mortars, infantry fighting vehicles, anti-air systems, grenade launchers and small arms," LuganskInformCenter quoted the source.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in the Humanitarian Bulletin covering the period January 1 through February 28: "Since the beginning of the year, OHCHR verified 111 civilian casualties (20 deaths and 91 injuries), compared to 51 in November-December 2016." The document points out that most civilians died or sustained wounds in result of "shelling from artillery, tanks" and multiple rocket launch systems.
The bulletin says that over 2,000 civilians have been killed and about 7,000 more sustained injuries since the conflict erupted in east Ukraine in April 2014. "These are conservative estimates by OHCHR based on available data; the actual number of casualties is believed to be higher," the UN body said.
"Damage to houses and vital infrastructure, including electricity, water (with knock on effect on the heating system), as well as schools and health facilities, was also widespread. These events further added to the suffering of already vulnerable people whose resources and resilience have been depleted by the protracted crisis," it said.
In late January, the situation along the line of contact in Donbass deteriorated dramatically. The Contact Group for settling the situation in eastern Ukraine announced that weapons banned by the Minsk agreements should be withdrawn from the line of contact by February 5, but the decision was not implemented.
On February 15, the Contact Group made another decision stipulating that all weapons banned by the Minsk agreements should be withdrawn from the line of contact by February 20. Foreign ministers of the four member states of the Normandy Quartet (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) upheld this initiative at a meeting that took place on February 18. However, according to the self-proclaimed republics, Kiev has been hampering the implementation of this decision. The Ukrainian authorities, in turn, have been accusing the self-proclaimed republics of violating the ceasefire.
Since the autumn of 2014, members of the Contact Group on settling the situation in eastern Ukraine have announced ceasefires in Donbass more than ten times. However, the Ukrainian military have been repeatedly violating ceasefires, particularly using large caliber guns, mortars and tanks that should be withdrawn from the line of contact in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
At the recent meeting of the Contact Group, held on March 1, the parties agreed to resume the weapons withdrawal process on March 7.