RESIDENTS of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have fled an area near rebel headquarters in the city following shelling while cars carrying rebel gunmen rushed through the streets.

The vehicles sped through red lights and shops closed early because of shelling, which followed an intense exchange of gunfire near a shopping mall in the city.

Meanwhile, 17 bodies have so far been recovered from the wreckage of a Ukrainian refugee convoy that was hit by shelling on Monday, a military spokesman said.

Loading article content

Six others were being treated in hospital for injuries, of whom three were in a serious condition.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko yesterday confirmed he would meet Russian president Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, next week.

Mr Poroshenko said "stabilising the situation" in eastern Ukraine where fighting has claimed more than 2,000 lives would be a key topic of discussion.

The two men have not met since early June.