KIEV, Jan 15 — It was a simple gesture of politeness that saved her: A young man offered her a seat on a bus transporting Ukrainians in search of pension payments in the war-torn east, but she remained standing.
“And today he is dead,” Olga Kukunyuk, 31, said at a hospital in Volnovakha, where she was being treated for wounds to her arm and leg, before breaking down in tears. “If I had been seated in his place, I would be dead.”
Her 60-year-old father Anatoly did not survive either, dying in hospital from his wounds.
A rocket that exploded on Tuesday near the bus at a checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine killed 12 people and was the worst loss of civilian life in the conflict since a September truce that was supposed to bring peace.
Both sides in the conflict that has killed more than 4,700 people traded blame in the tragedy, part of a new wave of violence that has rocked eastern Ukraine with negotiations aimed at ending the war having stalled.
Ukrainian soldiers placed a wooden cross at the site of the bus tragedy and candles were set on the ground, while the country observed a day of national mourning on Thursday for the victims.
President Petro Poroshenko, in a clear reference to Russia, said ultimate responsibility rested with “those whose hand feeds (the rebels) and arms them.” — AFP