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RUSSIA

Russia and Ukraine trade barbs over Swiss death

Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels clashed Friday around the flashpoint city of Donetsk, while trading blame over the death of a Swiss aid worker, four weeks into their shaky truce.

Russia and Ukraine trade barbs over Swiss death
People wait for food outside Red Cross building in Mariupol, Ukraine, south of Donetsk. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov accused insurgents of breaking the ceasefire "over a thousand times", while the military claimed that Russian military specialists were reinforcing rebel positions.
   
The deadly shelling of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Donetsk, which prompted a firm rebuke from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was an "act of terror", Kiev said, blaming rebels who control the city.
   
"This terrorist act cannot be justified," Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement on the death of the 38-year-old Geneva-based ICRC employee.

Kiev's military said the rebels had repeatedly fired on central Donetsk "to discredit the anti-terrorist operation."
   
Kiev also accused the insurgents of firing shells that hit a school bus and nearby bus station on the first day of classes in Donetsk on Wednesday, killing ten civilians.
   
However, Russia and the rebels both accused Ukrainian forces for the Red Cross worker's death.
   
"The Ukrainian army is firing at Donetsk for the second day in a row from Uragan (Hurricane multiple rocket launcher) systems," Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told AFP.
   
"Firing from such systems is not targeted. They simply hit a general area, along with everyone in it," he said, adding that the strike most likely originated from Krasnogorovka, a town 20 kilometres west of Donetsk.
   
Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich echoed Purgin, saying the fire came from positions controlled by Ukrainian soldiers and calling for a full investigation.
   
"In Kiev they didn't want to admit the obvious: the area of Donetsk that came under fire is under control of rebels and the shelling came from positions occupied by Ukrainian forces," the Russian ministry spokesman said.
 

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UKRAINE

Pro-Kremlin hackers launch another attack on official Italian sites

The Russia-linked hacker collective Killnet is engaged in an ongoing attack on Italian institutional websites, the second in two weeks, according to media reports.

Pro-Kremlin hackers launch another attack on official Italian sites

The attack, which began on Thursday evening and was still in progress as of Friday early afternoon, was reportedly confirmed by Italy’s Postal Police who are investigating the matter.

Among the fifty or so institutions targeted are Italy’s Superior Council of the Judiciary, its Customs Agency, and its foreign affairs, education, and cultural heritage ministries, according to the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

READ ALSO: Italy’s cybersecurity agency warns against use of Russian software

Killnet claimed the attack in a Telegram message, instructing its members to “fire on all fronts” in order to “liquidate the Italian information structure” – but to leave its healthcare system untouched.

On Friday shortly before 1pm Italian time, Italy’s embassy in London tweeted that the websites of the country’s foreign ministry and all its embassies had been hit and were out of action.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and consular applications at this location have been affected by a cyber attack,” the tweet reads.

“We apologize to users for inconveniences and delays in the processing of paperwork.”

Just last week, Killnet launched a separate cyberattack on the official Italian websites including those of Italy’s defence ministry and senate.

READ ALSO: Pro-Russia hackers target Italian official websites

On that occasion the issue was resolved within the space of hours, with senate President Elisabetta Alberti Casellati tweeting that no damage had ultimately been done.

In both cases, DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks were used, which involves overloading a site’s servers by flooding it with requests but does not compromise its infrastructure.

Killnet targeted Romanian government websites last month, citing Romania’s support for Ukraine in the war against Russia, according to the country’s national cybersecurity agency.

Romania’s intelligence service said the group has also targeted official websites of the United States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and NATO.

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