A gas pipeline explodes in eastern Ukraine as fighting rages between Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists, pushing a fragile peace deal closer to collapse. Vanessa Johnston reports.
A gas pipeline explodes near the eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve after being hit by mortar fire. THIS despite last week's ceasefire agreement between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. Amid the sound of shelling, one Ukrainian soldier blames the rebels for breaking the truce. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UNIDENTIFIED UKRAINIAN SOLDIER, SAYING (CONSTANT SHELLING HEARD IN BACKGROUND): "This is us firing. Finally. We started to respond because it became impossible not to. Yesterday they were shelling and we were silent because there was an order to keep the ceasefire. But it's impossible, our guys get killed -- that's some ceasefire for you. So we started to respond today." Earlier, both sides failed to withdraw their heavy weapons. Separatists now say they've captured parts of Debaltseve -- a strategic transport hub -- though Kiev denies this. One resident says she can't take it anymore. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UNIDENTIFIED VILLAGE RESIDENT CRYING, SAYING: "Only peace - I don't need anything else. (CRYING) I survived one war, and now... and now I'm 85." (CRYING) As fighting rages on, hopes are quickly being dashed that the European-brokered truce will finally end the conflict... ...which has killed more than 5,000 people. KEYWORDS: CEASEFIRE, PUTIN, RUSSIA, FIGHTING, EXPLOSION, SHOOTING,