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Swiss Red Cross Worker Killed When Shell Hits Near Donetsk Offices

Debris litters the ground outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the rebel-held eastern city of Donetsk following a blast on October 2.
Debris litters the ground outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the rebel-held eastern city of Donetsk following a blast on October 2.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that one of its six employees has been killed by a shell that hit near its offices in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

A local rescue worker, Andriy Lyvchenko, had confirmed the news and images circulated on the Internet of the passport of a Swiss national said to be the victim.

It was not immediately clear who launched the attack.

The Red Cross did not initially name the victim:

Fighting has intensified since October 1 near Donetsk's airport as pro-Russian separatists have attempted to seize control of the facility from government forces.

Ukraine's military said on October 2 that separatists were continuing an offensive they began the previous day on "a broad front."

The airport has been a focus of fighting between government forces and the separatists despite a September 5 cease-fire deal.

Ukrainian military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said government forces repelled four attacks on the airport in the evening of October 1, destroying a tank and killing seven rebels.

Seleznyov said the separatists used tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, artillery, and mortars during the overnight attack and when they resumed their assault on the morning of October 2.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who calls himself the prime minister of the "Donetsk People's Republic," was quoted as saying on October 1 that separatist forces control “90 percent of the airport's territory” and plan to have it fully under their control “in two or three days at most."

Three people were reported killed on October 1 when a shell exploded on a school playground, while several others died when a shell hit a minivan on a nearby street.

The blasts occurred as pupils returned to school after the start of the school year was postponed from September 1 due to fighting.

Meanwhile, diplomatic pressure on Russia continued as German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin via phone on October 1 that Moscow has a duty to exert influence on the separatists in Ukraine.

According to a German government spokesman, the two leaders expressed concerned that violence was still being used in Ukraine every day.

Merkel said the border between Ukraine and Russia needed to be monitored and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had a big role to play in that.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax

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