22 October 2016

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OSCE SMM evacuates forward patrol base in Schastia due to shelling

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has announced it has evacuated forward its patrol base in the town of Schastia in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, due to mortar shelling and moved to Sievierodonetsk.

"Between 20:55 and 21:00 on August 30, whilst at the SMM forward patrol base in government-controlled Schastia (20km north of Luhansk), an SMM patrol comprising five SMM staff members and a paramedic heard four shots of under-barrel-grenade-launcher (GP-25) fire approximately 1km south of their position. At approximately 22:05 the SMM heard four explosions assessed as mortar rounds outgoing from an undetermined distance south of its location. Within a few seconds, the patrol heard and felt four impacts assessed as caused by mortar rounds landing within 200m or less of the forward patrol base," the OSCE SMM said in its spot report.

According to the report, the explosions shook the building and electricity immediately went out. After five minutes, the SMM heard and felt five-six more impacts of what it assessed as mortar rounds over approximately 20 minutes. The rounds were assessed as impacting within 300m of the forward patrol base.

The SMM did not register any damage to its base.

Militants attack vehicle carrying Ukrainian JCCC members"At 22:11, the SMM informed the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces sides of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), who said they would liaise with the sides to stop the shelling. At 22:18, the SMM additionally informed "LPR" [self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic] members about the shelling and requested a cessation of fire. At 22:58 the JCCC informed the SMM that a local cessation of fire had been arranged, and the SMM confirmed as of 23:12 that it was holding," the report said.

The OSCE SMM said it had determined, in consultation with the JCCC, a safe travel route to government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM liaised with "LPR" members, as well as the Ukrainian side at the JCCC, and received verbal security guarantees for the SMM's evacuation.

"At 23:26, the SMM left the forward patrol base in Schastia with an escort by the JCCC and at 00:15 on August 31, the SMM arrived in Sievierodonetsk. The SMM has requested the JCCC to follow up on the incident," the report said.

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