Volnovakha bus incident

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Something explodes on the side of the road.
Via Russia Insider by George Eliason: Could Ukraine Bus Casualties Have Been Killed in a Mine Detonation?

On January 13th 12 passengers on a bus going to Donetsk were killed in an explosion at a military checkpoint near the Ukrainian-controlled town of Volnovaha.

Ten casualties were reported directly and two more died later in the hospital.

Both Kiev and Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State were quick to put the blame on the East Ukraine rebels saying it was an artillery strike.

"Attacks on the airport of Donetsk and the shelling of the bus, which killed 10 people and injured 13 more, constitute gross violations of the Minsk agreements", - said Harf.

Poroshenko immediately ordered another mobilization of conscripts and Kiev tightened the blockade of Donbass by stopping bus and train travel near the war torn area.

The problem for the Ukrainian and US Administration's claim is video footage from the scene shows clearly that the area was mined.

ACLOS Findings

Volnovokha stop 1.png

This is a case with a lot of detailed discussion, especially in analyzing the video sources. Something like agreed findings are currently being formed on the talk page, and so far seem to be settling on these general points:

  • There most likely was a barrage of Grad-type rockets around the checkpoint, quite likely from the north-northeast, as found by the OSCE observers. [1] Theses may be fired by either side, depending mainly on how far along that line they fired from. But until evidence and a compelling motive emerge, militias of the Donetsk People's Republic remain the single most logical party behind that.
  • There seem to be two different types of explosion involved in this incident, with the one next to the bus appearing more like a landmine detonation than the seen rocket impacts. Two other blasts like it are seen on video, both of them in the tree-line along the road's edges, like the explosion by the bus.
  • The tree-line along road's edge is visibly marked with improvised signs saying in Ukrainian "STOP! MINE," with a skull and cross-bones (see above - a poorly-displayed one right next to the fatally-stricken bus).
  • The bus blast video seems to show a person failing to heed that warning and, during the rocket barrage, darting toward the trees before the explosion occurs some meters away from him/her. If there was a mine right there, triggered with a tripwire set even nearer to the road, that movement - and not any rocket impact - might be what triggered the blast that hit the bus.
  • There's no clearly visible sign, in the initial blast video or footage of the aftermath, of any rocket impact in the area next to the bus.
  • Therefore, the rocket barrage appears only indirectly connected to the fatal part of this incident, which was probably caused by an anti-personnel landmine placed by Ukrainian government forces, apparently the Kiev-2 battalion. This would be in violation of Ukraine's agreement to the 1997 "mine ban treaty" - it's illegal.

Sources

Primary sources

Graham Phillips on Facebook, January 13 at 10:11pm

Report that Ukrainian terrorist group the Pravy Sektor claimed responsibility for destroying a bus of terrorists today, before amending claim upon realizing it was civilians killed at Volnovakha.

Video

Accusations

President Poroshenko with part of bus in Davos
Explosion of civilian bus in Volnovakha area in January 2015, was organized by a detachment of the 72th mechanized brigade of UAF under Captain Bogdan Garnaga. This was reported in the latest part of the dossier on war criminals; this dossier is prepared by the operational command of DPR.

Analysis

References

  1. Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 16 January 2015 OSCE, KYIV 17 January 2015