Rockets kill 21 in Ukraine city as rebel offensive begins

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Rockets kill 21 in Ukraine city as rebel offensive begins
Russian-backed separatists wait for their transport, preparing to leave towards the frontline, in the village of Vergulivka, just outside Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Fierce fighting surged Friday in eastern Ukraine as Russian-backed separatists mounted a major, sustained offensive to capture a strategic railway hub ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline. At least 25 people were killed across the region, officials reported. (AP Photo/Maximilian Clarke)
A Pro-Russian separatist fighter mans a checkpoint near the airport of Donetsk on Febuary 7, 2015. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced optimism that a plan being worked on by Moscow, Berlin and Paris could bring an end to the Ukraine conflict. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 24: Pro-Russian separatist stands near the road while pro-Russian separatists withdraw military vehicles from the front line at Donetsk Airport on February 24, 2015 in Donetsk, Ukraine. Since 9 A.M. on Tuesday DNR has already taken away 96 units of barreled artillery, jet and self-propelled artillery. (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images).
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 24: Pro-Russian separatists withdraw military vehicles from the front line at Donetsk Airport on February 24, 2015 in Donetsk, Ukraine. Since 9 A.M. on Tuesday DNR has already taken away 96 units of barreled artillery, jet and self-propelled artillery. (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images).
A pro-Russian separatist fighter stands guard at Donetsk's Sergey Prokofiev international airport, as shelling continues between Ukrainian army forces and pro-Russian separatist fighters on February 7, 2015. Five civilians and five soldiers were killed in fighting in east Ukraine, government and rebel officials said on February 7, with Kiev accusing pro-Russian separatists of massing forces for fresh offensives. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pro-Russian separatist fighter stands guard at a checkpoint near the airport of Donetsk on Febuary 7, 2015. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday voiced optimism that a plan being worked on by Moscow, Berlin and Paris could bring an end to the Ukraine conflict.AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, Pro-Russian rebels fire artillery toward Ukrainian position at Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport outskirts the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Russia has denied it is sending arms and troops to support the separatists in Ukraine, but dozens of soldiers have been reported killed during drills in the Rostov region of southern Russia, but rights groups have actually attributed the deaths to the conflict over the border in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)
FILE - In this Thursday Oct. 9, 2014, file photo, Pro-Russian rebels carry boxes of munitions at their position near to the airport in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Russia has denied it is sending arms and troops to support the separatists in Ukraine, but dozens of soldiers have been reported killed during drills in the Rostov region of southern Russia, but rights groups have actually attributed the deaths to the conflict over the border in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)
Ukrainian government soldiers sit on top of their armored vehicle driving on a road stretching away from the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, towards Debaltseve, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels failed Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine as a deadline passed to do so. Under a cease-fire agreement negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last week, the warring sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Ukrainian artillery is at a position outside of the village of Luhanske, some 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels failed Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine as a deadline passed to do so. Under a cease-fire agreement negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last week, the warring sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
An Ukrainian soldier strikes a V-Victory sign driving on his vehicle on the road between the towns of Debaltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The Ukrainian government and Russia-backed rebels accused each other Monday of violating a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, a day before the parties are due to start withdrawing heavy weaponry under a recently brokered deal. The cease-fire, which went into effect on Sunday, had raised cautious hopes for an end to the 10-month-old conflict, which has already claimed more than 5,300 lives. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Russian servicemen, members of trilateral groups of observers, walk along a street in Soledar, Donetsk region, on February 17, 2015. The European Union on February 17, 2015 called for the immediate pull-back of heavy weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine and voiced concern about the surge in fighting in a key flashpoint town of Debaltseve. AFP PHOTO / ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Ukrainian serviceman stands on top of a KRAZ armoured vehicle close to a car of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Soledar, Donetsk region, on February 17, 2015. The European Union on February 17, 2015 called for the immediate pull-back of heavy weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine and voiced concern about the surge in fighting in a key flashpoint town of Debaltseve. AFP PHOTO / ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 17: Destroyed Ukrainian military armoured vehicles are seen on the nothern outskirts of Donestk on February 17, 2015 in Donetsk, Ukraine. A ceasefire agreed to by Ukraine and pro-Russian rebel forces has failed to prevent fighting in the nearby town of Debaltseve, where thousands of Ukrainian troops remain and whom rebels claim to have surrounded. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
MYRONIVSKYI, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 17: A gas pipe burns after being struck by shelling on February 17, 2015 in Myronivskyi, Ukraine. A ceasefire agreed to by Ukraine and pro-Russian rebel forces has failed to prevent fighting in the nearby town of Debaltseve, where thousands of Ukrainian troops remain and whom rebels claim to have surrounded. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: An Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed military vehicle of Ukrainian army, near Debaltseve district of Donetsk, Ukraine on February 16, 2015. At least 112 attacks are carried out by pro-Russian separatists on the Ukrainian armys position and five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: Ukrainian soldiers are seen near Debaltseve district of Donetsk, Ukraine on February 16, 2015. At least 112 attacks are carried out by pro-Russian separatists on the Ukrainian armys position and five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: Ukrainian soldiers sit on a military vehicle of Ukrainian army near Debaltseve district of Donetsk, Ukraine on February 16, 2015. At least 112 attacks are carried out by pro-Russian separatists on the Ukrainian armys position and five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSPYNE, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: Pro-Russian rebels attend the funerals of four rebel fighters who died on the frontline at the cemetery of Mospyne on February 16, 2015 in Mospyne, Ukraine. The rebels died on the frontline in Lohvynove near Debaltseve one day before the ceasefire . (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: An Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed military vehicle of Ukrainian army, near Debaltseve district of Donetsk, Ukraine on February 16, 2015. At least 112 attacks are carried out by pro-Russian separatists on the Ukrainian armys position and five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: Ukrainian military vehicles of Ukrainian army are seen near Debaltseve district of Donetsk, Ukraine on February 16, 2015. At least 112 attacks are carried out by pro-Russian separatists on the Ukrainian armys position and five Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ukrainian government soldiers sit on top of their armored vehicle driving on a road stretching away from the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, towards Debaltseve, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels failed Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine as a deadline passed to do so. Under a cease-fire agreement negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last week, the warring sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A Ukrainian armored vehicle passes on a road stretching away from the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, towards Debaltseve, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels failed Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine as a deadline passed to do so. Under a cease-fire agreement negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last week, the warring sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Ukrainian government soldiers sit on top of their vehicle driving on a road stretching away from the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, towards Debaltseve, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed rebels failed Tuesday to start pulling back heavy weaponry from the front line in eastern Ukraine as a deadline passed to do so. Under a cease-fire agreement negotiated by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last week, the warring sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
An Ukrainian soldier rests on his vehicle near the road between the towns of Debaltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The Ukrainian government and Russia-backed rebels accused each other Monday of violating a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, a day before the parties are due to start withdrawing heavy weaponry under a recently brokered deal. The cease-fire, which went into effect on Sunday, had raised cautious hopes for an end to the 10-month-old conflict, which has already claimed more than 5,300 lives. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
MOSPYNE, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 16: Graves in the cemetery of Mospyne during the funeral of four rebel fighters killed on the frontline on February 16, 2015 in Mospyne, Ukraine. The rebels died on the frontline in Lohvynove near Debaltseve one day before the ceasefire . (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Ukrainian reserve officers called up during the fourth wave of partial mobilization take part in military exercises in the Army Training Center near the village of Desna, Chernigiv region, on February 13, 2015. Fighting raged in Ukraine today as the clock ticked down to a ceasefire that will be a first test of Kiev and pro-Russian separatists' committment to a freshly-inked peace plan. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian reserve officers, called up during the fourth wave of partial mobilization, take part in military exercises in the Army Training Center near the village of Desna, Chernigiv region on February 13, 2015. At least 18 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine in new artillery shelling just a day after a peace deal was signed to end the 10-month conflict. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms.
A resident looks out of her damaged windows after shelling between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces occurred in a residential area of the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Despite a looming cease-fire deal for eastern Ukraine, a government-held town 40 kilometers (25 miles) behind the front line has been hit by shelling, killing at least one person. The deadline for the warring sides to halt hostilities is Sunday morning at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Ukrainian reserve officers called up during the fourth wave of partial mobilization take part in military exercises in the Army Training Center near the village of Desna, Chernigiv region, on February 13, 2015. Fighting raged in Ukraine today as the clock ticked down to a ceasefire that will be a first test of Kiev and pro-Russian separatists' committment to a freshly-inked peace plan. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian reserve officers called up during the fourth wave of partial mobilization take part in military exercises in the Army Training Center near the village of Desna, Chernigiv region, on February 13, 2015. Fighting raged in Ukraine today as the clock ticked down to a ceasefire that will be a first test of Kiev and pro-Russian separatists' committment to a freshly-inked peace plan. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly mobilized Ukrainian soldiers stand at a position during military drills in base Desna 100km north from Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Fierce fighting surged in east Ukraine as Russian-backed separatists mounted a major and sustained new push Friday to capture a strategic railway hub ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A newly mobilized Ukrainian soldier shows his skills during military drills in base Desna 100km north from Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Fierce fighting surged in east Ukraine as Russian-backed separatists mounted a major and sustained new push Friday to capture a strategic railway hub ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian reserve officers, called up during the fourth wave of partial mobilization, take part in military exercises in the Army Training Center near the village of Desna, Chernigiv region on February 13, 2015. At least 18 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine in new artillery shelling just a day after a peace deal was signed to end the 10-month conflict. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries a child after shelling between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in a residential area of the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Despite a looming cease-fire deal for eastern Ukraine, a government-held town 40 kilometers (25 miles) behind the front line has been hit by shelling, killing at least one person. The deadline for the warring sides to halt hostilities is Sunday morning at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Ukrainian government soldiers inspect the body of a child covered with cloth after shelling between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in a residential area of the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Despite a looming cease-fire deal for eastern Ukraine, a government-held town 40 kilometers (25 miles) behind the front line has been hit by shelling, killing at least one person. The deadline for the warring sides to halt hostilities is Sunday morning at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A Ukrainian government soldier talks to residents after shelling between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in a residential area of the town of Artemivsk, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Despite a looming cease-fire deal for eastern Ukraine, a government-held town 40 kilometers (25 miles) behind the front line has been hit by shelling, killing at least one person. The deadline for the warring sides to halt hostilities is Sunday morning at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
MISNK, BELARUS - FEBRUARY 11: (L to R) Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko during peace talks over Eastern Ukraine on February 11, 2015 in Minsk, Belarus. The European leaders are meeting to discuss a cease-fire in the Ukraine. (Photo by Dmitry Azarov/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images).
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms. (Feb. 12)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, speaks with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms. (AP Photo/ Sergei Grits)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to the media after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
French President Francois Hollande, foreground right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk after their marathon talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. French President Francois Hollande says he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are committed to helping verify the cease-fire process in Ukraine, along with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders. Hollande said Thursday the announcement of a new cease-fire deal has come as a "relief to Europe."(AP Photo/ Sergei Grits)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and French President Francois Hollande, foreground left, thank Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, centre right, as they leave Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms. (AP Photo/ Sergei Grits)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, gestures as he speaks with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new cease-fire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms. (AP Photo/ Sergei Grits)
French President Francois Hollande, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel enter a room after their marathon talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. French President Francois Hollande says he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are committed to helping verify the cease-fire process in Ukraine, along with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders. Hollande said Thursday the announcement of a new cease-fire deal has come as a "relief to Europe." (AP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev, Pool)
MISNK, BELARUS - FEBRUARY 11: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (R)during peace talks over Eastern Ukraine on February 11, 2015 in Minsk, Belarus. The European leaders are meeting to discuss a cease-fire in the Ukraine. (Photo by Dmitry Azarov/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images).
Members of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) investigate the scene after a bus station was hit during a recent shelling between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government forces in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. This is at least the third time a bus has been hit in the rebel stronghold but the first time it happens so close to the center, an area of the city which has so far been mostly spared the destruction. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Automatic gunfire from a Ukrainian military truck. Government forces have launched a counter offensive near the southeastern port city of Mariupol. They claim to have gained territory from Russian-backed rebels, who want greater independence with what they're calling "people's republics" in the east of the country.
People look at burned busses hit by shelling at a central bus station in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Fighting continued to rage in eastern Ukraine Wednesday ahead of crucial peace talks later in the day. Shelling rocked the bus station in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, where an Associated Press reporter saw one body and was told by rebel officials that another body had been recently removed from the scene. (AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)
People look at burned busses hit by shelling at a central bus station in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2014. Fighting continued to rage in eastern Ukraine Wednesday ahead of crucial peace talks later in the day. Shelling rocked the bus station in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, where an Associated Press reporter saw one body and was told by rebel officials that another body had been recently removed from the scene. (AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)
KRAMATORSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 10: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits Ukraine's military headquarters after shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, a town more than 30 miles away from the front lines, on February 10, 2015. At least 7 killed including 2 soldier and 26 wounded in a rocket attack on Ukraine's military headquarters, local authorities said. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Pro-Russian separatist fighter mans a checkpoint near the airport of Donetsk on Febuary 7, 2015. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced optimism that a plan being worked on by Moscow, Berlin and Paris could bring an end to the Ukraine conflict. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A Russia-backed separatist walks past a destroyed bus after a bus station was hit during a recent shelling between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government forces in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. This is at least the third time a bus has been hit in the rebel stronghold but the first time it happens so close to the center, an area of the city which has so far been mostly spared the destruction. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A woman holds a placard during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 in solidarity with the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stops supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
U.S. and European leaders threatened new sanctions against Moscow after a missile attack blamed on pro-Russian separatists killed 30 civilians in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Niki Blasina reports.
A man walks by a burned car and a piece of exploded Grad missile, outside an apartment building in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
People light candles and lay flowers on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, for the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stops supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
People light candles on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, for the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Volunteers carry humanitarian aid after Saturday's attacks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A man walks past a Soviet hummer and sickle sculpture, outside an apartment building damaged by a Grad missile in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Local residents look at a burned car outside an apartment building in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Volunteers carry humanitarian aid after Saturday's attacks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov)
A woman lights a candle on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 for the victims of a rocket attack on the coastal city of Mariupol. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
People examine their burned cars, parked outside an apartment building in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A man walks past an apartment building damaged by a Grad missile in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A piece of an exploded Grad missile is photographed outside an apartment building in Vostochniy, district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Volunteers distribute humanitarian aid after Saturday's attacks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A piece of an exploded Grad missile is photographed as a man takes a photo of a burned car in the background, outside an apartment building in Vostochniy, district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Rescue workers try to pull out a piece of an exploded Grad missile outside an apartment building in Vostochniy district of Mariupol, Eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
People lay flowers and set candles on January 24, 2015, during a rally to mourn at a bus stop in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, where 13 people were killed in a trolleybus shelling on January 22. At least 27 people died on January 24, in a rocket attack on Ukraine's strategic government-held port of Mariupol after Russian-backed rebels rejected peace talks, the mayor's office said. AFP PHOTO/ALEXANDER GAYUK (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER GAYUK/AFP/Getty Images)
People light candles on Independence Square in Kiev on 24, 2015 to mourn people who died as a result of shelling in southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. At least 27 people died in a rocket attack on Ukraine's strategic government-held port of Mariupol after Russian-backed rebels rejected peace talks, the mayor's office said. AFP PHOTO/ YURY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
People light candles on Independence Square in Kiev on 24, 2015, in mourning for people who died as a result of shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. At least 27 people died in a rocket attack on Ukraine's strategic government-held port of Mariupol after Russian-backed rebels rejected peace talks, the mayor's office said. AFP PHOTO/ YURY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold placards reading 'I am Mariupol' as they stand beside candles on Independence Square in Kiev on 24, 2015, lit in mourning for people who died as a result of shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. At least 27 people died in a rocket attack on Ukraine's strategic government-held port of Mariupol after Russian-backed rebels rejected peace talks, the mayor's office said. AFP PHOTO/ YURY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
People lay tributes for victims of a shelling at a bus stop in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, during a rally on January 24, 2015. Eight civilians died in a trolleybus shelling in Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel stronghold of Donetsk, separatist and Kiev officials said on January 23, revising down an earlier toll. The trolleybus shelling was among the bloodiest incidents involving civilians in recent months in a conflict that has devastated the ex-Soviet republic's industrial heartland and brought Ukraine's economy to its knees. AFP PHOTO/ALEXANDER GAYUK (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER GAYUK/AFP/Getty Images)
People set candles on Independence Square in Kiev on January 24, 2015 in memory of people who died during shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. At least 27 people died on January 24 in a rocket attack on Ukraine's strategic government-held port of Mariupol after Russian-backed rebels rejected peace talks, the mayor's office said. AFP PHOTO / ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ukrainians pay their final respects to serviceman Serhiy Nikonenko, who was killed in fighting against Russian-backed rebels, during a funeral in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Full-scale fighting has broken out between government forces and separatists after a new truce agreed in December collapsed as rebels attempted to wrest the airport in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk from government control. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian soldiers pay their final respects to serviceman Serhiy Nikonenko, who was killed in fighting against Russian-backed rebels, during a funeral in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Full-scale fighting has broken out between government forces and separatists after a new truce agreed in December collapsed as rebels attempted to wrest the airport in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk from government control. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin bearing the body of serviceman Serhiy Nikonenko, left, who was killed in fighting against pro-Russian rebels, during a funeral in Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Full-scale fighting has broken out between government forces and the Russian-backed rebels after a new truce agreed in December collapsed as rebels attempted to wrest the airport in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk from government control. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
This photo taken by a drone on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 shows a destroyed control tower at the airport in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Battles for control over the airport on the northern edge of the main separatist stronghold of Donetsk intensified over the week with rebels taking control over the terminal, although fighting is continuing in nearby settlements. The airport, which was a major showcase of the Euro 2012 Championship hosted by Ukraine, has been reduced to a hulking wreck by months of intense fighting. (AP Photo/ArmySOS)
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin bearing the body of serviceman Serhiy Nikonenko, who was killed in fighting against Russian-backed rebels, during a funeral in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Full-scale fighting has broken out between government forces and separatists after a new truce agreed in December collapsed as rebels attempted to wrest the airport in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk from government control. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Volunteers from the Azov volunteer battalion get on the bus set for the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: At least 10 people have been killed and 46 others wounded by rockets Saturday in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Buildings are on fire and damaged after this incident. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman resident passes by a burning house in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. A crowded open-air market in Ukraine's strategically important coastal city of Mariupol came under rocket fire Saturday morning, killing at least 10 people, regional police said. Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea. Pro-Russian separatist forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol's eastern outskirts. (AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov)
Residents pass by burning houses, a dead body in the background, in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. A crowded open-air market in Ukraine's strategically important coastal city of Mariupol came under rocket fire Saturday morning, killing at least 10 people, regional police said. Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea. Pro-Russian separatist forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol's eastern outskirts. (AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov)
Burned cars on a destroyed parking site in a residential area in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. A crowded open-air market in Ukraine's strategically important coastal city of Mariupol came under rocket fire Saturday morning, killing at least 10 people, regional police said. Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea. Pro-Russian separatist forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol's eastern outskirts. (AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov)
EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT An Orthodox priest grieves at the bodies of killed Ukrainian soldiers on a check-point captured by pro-Russian rebels at the town of Krasniy Partizan, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The fighting continues despite several cease fire declarations. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
A pro-Russian rebel patrols positions at a check-point captured by pro-Russian rebels, at the town of Krasniy Partizan, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The fighting continues despite several cease fire declarations. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
A pro-Russian rebel holds a Ukrainian flag found in a check-point captured by pro-Russian rebels, at the town of Krasniy Partizan, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The fighting continues despite several cease fire declarations. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
Pro-Russian rebels help a priest to put bodies of killed Ukrainian soldiers in a truck on a check point captured by pro-Russian rebels at the town of Krasniy Partizan, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The fighting continues despite several cease fire declarations. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
A woman resident passes by a burning house in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. A crowded open-air market in Ukraine's strategically important coastal city of Mariupol came under rocket fire Saturday morning, killing at least 10 people, regional police said. Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea. Pro-Russian separatist forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol's eastern outskirts. (AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov)
This photo taken by a drone on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 shows the destroyed airport in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Battles for control over the airport on the northern edge of the main separatist stronghold of Donetsk intensified over the week with rebels taking control over the terminal, although fighting is continuing in nearby settlements. The airport, which was a major showcase of the Euro 2012 Championship hosted by Ukraine, has been reduced to a hulking wreck by months of intense fighting. (AP Photo/ArmySOS)
People queue to receive humanitarian aid from the charitable foundation of Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, whose vast wealth is founded on the industrial output of Donetsk coal-rich region, in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Akhmetov is contentious figure in eastern Ukraine. Although a major provider of employment, he is regarded with profound suspicion by much of the impoverished local population. Still, his standing improves with every consignment of goods that reaches separatist-held regions. Amnesty International said it received reports before the New Year holidays of volunteer battalions fighting alongside Ukrainian government forces of preventing the Akhmetov convoys from getting through. The battalion justified their actions by arguing that the food and clothes in the trucks could ultimately help to support the separatist cause, Amnesty says. (AP Photo/ Mstyslav Chernov)
Ukrainian nationalists carry torches and a banner with a portrait of Stepan Bandera during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, late Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. The rally was organized on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that fought against the Soviet regime and who was assassinated in Germany in 1959. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian rebel guards the road near the Airport of Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 6 , 2015. Ukrainian soldiers took up duties Tuesday at the Donetsk Airport, which has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in eastern Ukraine. The 50 soldiers in a convoy of four trucks were provided safe passage to the airport by rebel forces, who gave them gifts in celebration of Orthodox Christmas. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
Ukrainian nationalists carry torches during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, late Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. The rally was organized on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that fought against the Soviet regime and who was assassinated in Germany in 1959. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian nationalists carry torches during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, late Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. The rally was organized on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that fought against the Soviet regime and who was assassinated in Germany in 1959. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools and homes Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing at least 21 people, authorities said. Ukraine's top rebel leader announced that an offensive had begun on the strategically important port.

The report came a day after the rebels rejected a peace deal and said they were going on a multi-prong offensive against the government in Kiev to vastly increase their territory. The move is upending European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting.

Mariupol, which lies on the Azov Sea, is the major city between mainland Russia and the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Heavy fighting in the region in the autumn raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea.

The RIA Novosti news agency cited eastern Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying an offensive has begun on Mariupol. He spoke Saturday as he laid a wreath at the site where at least eight civilians died when a bus stop was shelled in Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine.

Rebel forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol's eastern outskirts.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement there were three separate strikes from Grad multiple rocket launchers on Mariupol and surrounding areas.

"The area that came under attack was massive," Mariupol mayor Yuriy Khotlubei said in a video statement. "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."

The Donetsk region prosecutor's office said in a mid-afternoon statement that 21 people had been killed.

Defense and police officials said rockets struck homes, a kindergarten, a market and shops. There was no immediate report of how many people died in various locations.

A Ukrainian military checkpoint on a road leading out of the city toward rebel-held areas was also hit and one serviceman was killed, the Defense Ministry said.

Mariupol city council urged residents not to panic and to ignore rumors that Ukrainian armed forces were planning to withdraw.

"On the contrary, all units are on fully battle-ready. Security measures in the city have been strengthened," the council said in a statement.

No armed separatist units have been noted moving toward the city, the statement added.

The U.N. human rights agency on Friday raised its estimate of the conflict's overall death toll to nearly 5,100 since April.

On Thursday, mortars rained down on the center of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, hitting a bus and killing several bystanders. Rebel officials said 13 were killed in that attack. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe cited city morgue officials as saying they have received eight bodies.

On Jan. 13, a bus parked near an army checkpoint north of Mariupol was hit by a shell, resulting in the death of 13 people. Ukraine blamed the rocket attack on separatists.

The OSCE's special monitoring mission (SMM) in east Ukraine on Saturday expressed concern over the growing number of civilian casualties and called for restraint from all sides.

"The SMM strongly condemns the continuation of the fighting in residential areas. Using residential areas as firing positions attracts counter-firing to these areas, further endangering the lives of civilians," the mission said in a statement.

Clashes are taking place across the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where separatist insurgencies emerged in April following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Fighting has also been intensifying recently for the government-held town of Debaltseve. Main roads to the town lie in separatist control and speculation is mounting that Ukrainian forces stationed there could soon be fully encircled.

Russia insists that it does not support the rebels, but Western military officials say the sheer number of heavy weapons under rebel control belies that claim.

A peace deal signed in September in the Belarusian capital of Minsk envisaged a cease-fire and a pullout of heavy weapons from a division line in eastern Ukraine. It has been repeatedly violated by both sides, and heavy artillery and rocket barrages have increased the civilian death toll in the last few weeks.

Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany agreed Wednesday to revive that division line, but fighting has continued unabated.

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