Avdiivka residents preparare to evacuate as the conflict with Putin-supporting rebels escalates
Thousands of people are set to be evacuated from Avdiivka, a town near the Russian-supporting, rebel-controlled area in the east of the country, over the next few days.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since 2014 when fighting began due to Russian land claims and pro-Putin rebel uprisings in the east of Ukraine.
Despite attempts to negotiate a cease fire last month, violence has begun anew this week with several deaths on both sides yesterday.
This morning 175 people, including 88 children, were rushed by bus away from the town. Five injuries have been reported in Avdiivka today.
At least 24 buildings were also damaged by overnight shelling.
Avdiivka is a valuable stronghold for Ukrainian forces
One resident said: “Everything is going bad. People are scared and try to go out. It's very cold. There are bread queues. Only a few shops are open.”
Pavlo Zhebrivsky of the Ukraine administration said plans were being made for a mass evacuation from the town, which has a population of around 20,000.
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He said: “As of now, we can evacuate up to 8,000 people in the course of the day. The region's towns are ready to receive up to 9,000 people.”
Avdiivka is a key stronghold due to its transport links and industrial plants, which are a vital cog in Ukraine’s steel industry.
A Ukrainian soldier during a skirmish in Avdiivka last year
The town was taken by pro-Russia rebels in 2014 but regained by the Ukrainian army later that year. Losing the town would be a huge blow to Ukraine’s army – as well as the country’s economy.
This is a developing story. More to follow…