War takes toll on Ukraine city, residents - Tucson News Now

War takes toll on Ukraine city, residents

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A family of refugees leaves the woods and returns home to a town being shelled in eastern Ukraine. (Source: CNN) A family of refugees leaves the woods and returns home to a town being shelled in eastern Ukraine. (Source: CNN)
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SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE (CNN) - The once-bustling city of Slovyansk is the focus of fighting between separatists and the Ukrainian government.

The city has been held by separatists for two months.

But it's also come under shelling and mortar fire from government forces seeking to regain control.

The rumble of artillery fire in the distance is heard but doesn't faze some women on Thursday.

A neighbor asks whether the water is back.

No, they tell him. Some people took water from the fountains.

Tatiana Goma and her family are on the way into town. Eight people were all piled into a tiny Lada heading back into Slovyansk after a week in a nearby forest.

They are preferring to trust their luck in a city under siege than to live with nothing as refugees.

Their journey home took them along tracks and rutted roads through militant checkpoints overlooked by Ukrainian artillery positions.

And after a two-hour journey they made it into the city.

"Course I'm worried to be here. But home is home. There is no electricity and no water but at least it's better than living in tents in the woods," said Tatiana Goma.

Slovyansk is run down in the best of times.

But the last week of shelling has left ugly scars and destroyed its infrastructure.

It's also left its people scared and vulnerable.

"They need to negotiate. They should somehow settle this or the Ukrainian government should say - that's it. We're bombing. Run away," said Alexei Harashenka.

Fuel stations are destroyed.

Apartment buildings in the center of town are hit as well.

The targeting seems indiscriminate.

And a school, all the windows have been blown out.

No one was in the school. School is out in Slovyansk at the moment. But the damage is considerable.

Probably the freshest water residents have seen in days is falling from the skies.

Taking shelter from the storm, Galina Sergeyeva says Ukraine's new president has blood on his hands.

"A lot of people have died but no one is talking about it. They should pull the army back," said Sergeyeva.

One woman came from a nearby village to collect her pension.

But she said the bank was destroyed.

She's taking a puppy home with her instead.

He'll grow up safer there.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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