The video shows the moment that Grad rockets fired by pro-Russian separatists hit a residential area in the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, about 62 miles from the city of Donetsk under rebel control.
The moment was captured by a Ukrainian motorist’s dashcam and the clip posted to YouTube on Jan. 24.
Just before the rocket hits we hear a warning scream and see an instant fire, spreading smoke and clouds of dust and debris engulfs a vehicle ahead.
The car, whose dashcam recorded the incident, narrowly escapes the blast. The driver reverses hastily but the car immediately ahead only stops, the driver being unable to react immediately, probably out of shock.
Several people were killed or injured in the attack. The dead included a five-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.
The rocket attack was one of several targeted at civilian centers in Mariupol on Saturday, in which at least 30 people were killed and more injured. Other Grad missile attacks hit a market, schools and residential apartments, according to the local authorities.
The Los Angeles Times notes the rockets were fired from a multiple rocket launcher that is able to launch several missiles dispersed over an area.
The latest escalation comes after weeks of heavy fighting at the Donetsk airport and immediately after pro-Russian leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, declared that rebel forces were launching an offensive against the city of Mariupol to dislodge government troops.
But following reports of high civilian casualties, the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic denied it was responsible for the rocket attacks.
“This is blatant misinformation and a lie. Rebel forces did not open any fire in the direction of Mariupol, especially not on residential areas.”
But according to the mayor of the city of Mariupol, Yuriy Khotlubei, the city came under intense rocket fire from rebel positions.
“The area that came under attack was massive. The shelling was carried out by militants. This is very clearly Russian aggression that has caused terrible losses for the residents of the eastern part of our city.”
NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, described the shelling as being in “utter disregard” of the ceasefire agreement signed last year. He accused Russia of aiding the rebels.
President Poroshenko, who cut short his trip to Saudi Arabia after news of the attacks on Mariupol, described them as “terrorist” and a crime against humanity “to be tried by the Hague tribunal.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military has strengthened its positions in and around the city in preparation for a rebel offensive.
Mariupol is considered strategic because it could provide the rebels and their Russian backers a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula and access to a strategic port. The port in Mariupuol was one of Ukraine’s largest and the busiest in the Azov Sea region, handling over 10 million metric tons of cargo annually.