Five civilians killed in Ukraine's Donetsk

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Pro-Russian separatist soldiers prepare mortar shells near Donetsk's Sergey Prokofiev international airport on October 9, 2014

Pro-Russian separatist soldiers prepare mortar shells near Donetsk's Sergey Prokofiev international airport on October 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Kiev (AFP) - Five civilians were killed during intensified shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, local authorities said Thursday.

The fresh casualties came Wednesday amid fighting close to the army-held Donetsk airport, they said.

Ukraine's military said rebels had launched four mortar attacks against their positions at the airport overnight.

Artillery strikes continued to be heard Thursday morning in the city, where deadly clashes between Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels have reduced their ceasefire accord to a truce in name only.

Donetsk's northeastern neighbourhoods close to the airport have seen much of the fighting, as several Ukrainian contingents holed up there since May seek to stave off more than a week of nearly ceaseless rebel attacks.

An AFP reporter on Wednesday saw the bodies of two people killed in shelling and shops damaged by mortar fire.

Donetsk city authorities said several residential buildings in the same districts had been destroyed and that two shopping centres had also been hit.

Despite the September 5 truce signed between Kiev authorities and the leaders of pro-Russian separatist groups in Donetsk and neighbouring Lugansk provinces, more than 330 people have been killed in fighting and five million people continue to be affected by violence, according to the United Nations.

Ukraine's military also said Thursday that rebels had attacked army positions in the Lugansk region, where government troops still control a power station.