The cease-fire in Ukraine is barely two days old, but the relative peace was ruptured by steady overnight shelling near the port city of Mariupol.
The BBC says the city is now quiet, but artillery fire by pro-Russian forces destroyed a major government checkpoint. Mariupol is on a major highway leading to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia earlier this year, and is the site of defensive posts against the rebels.
The already shaky cease-fire to end five months of bloody fighting took effect on Friday. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the agreement was largely holding. But the Mariupol shelling may seriously undermine the deal.
In a second test of the cease-fire’s stamina, strong explosions could be heard near the airport in Donetsk, and dark plumes of smoke filled the sky, Reuters reports.
A statement from separatists there said Ukrainian forces violated the agreement by firing on six of their positions, including the airport, and said that several rebels were killed, AP reported.
“Blasts powerful enough to be heard in downtown Donetsk came from the area near the airport, which has been under the control of government troops since May and has come under unremitting attacks from pro-Russia separatist rebels since then,” says AP.