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An “appalling” attack on a bus stop that killed at least eight civilians Thursday was likely a violation of international humanitarian law and must be investigated, rights group Amnesty International said.
The missile strike, which wrecked a trolleybus and blew out nearby windows in the rebel-held city of Donetsk, came after a night of intense fighting and coincided with diplomatic talks involving Ukraine and Russia.
A mortar or shell hit the trolleybus but it was not clear who fired it. Each side blamed the other.
“This appalling loss of civilian life is another reminder of the deadly consequences of ignoring the rules of international humanitarian law. A thorough, impartial and independent investigation into this possible violation of the laws of war is needed immediately,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty in a statement.
“Mortars should not be used in densely populated civilian areas. This attack shows callous disregard for civilian lives and the laws of war.”
Russia’s foreign ministry blamed it on Ukrainian troops and called it a “grave provocation.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said it was the work of a “sabotage group” of pro-Russia separatists.
Meanwhile, NATO's military leaders intend to re-establish contact with their Russian counterparts after months of tension, NATO's top military commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said.
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- Alastair Jamieson
Reuters contributed to this report.