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Shakhtar training camp hit by shells

Kiev: FC Shakhtar Donetsk’s training camp in Donetsk has been seriously damaged by overnight shelling, the Ukrainian club said on Saturday.

“Two shells hit the main building directly, destroying the upper level where the main squad of the team used to live,” the club said in a statement.

“The leisure zone and the exercise room were completely destroyed. Fire-brigades have been working hard all night to beat a huge fire. They managed to localise it, but some parts are still burning.”

Sergei Palkin, the director general of the football club, however assured that nobody was injured. “Fortunately no one was hurt,” Palkin said. “But the base is destroyed. I have no clue what comes next. First of all, the war must be over.”

Pro-Kiev troops and local militia in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.

During military operations, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armoured vehicles, heavy artillery and aerial attack destroying infrastructure of the southeastern regions, leaving thousands killed and wounded and forcing people to flee the country.

“My heart bleeds now,” FC Shakhtar director general said. “It is impossible to describe it. Such bombings occur daily.”

Two days ago, the camp was hit by four shells causing minor damages as they struck the training ground while Shakhtar’s Donbass Arena, which hosted a semi-final of the Euro 2012 championship, had also been damaged by shelling.

FC Shakhtar are currently based in the country’s capital of Kiev due to military operations in the southeast of Ukraine. They play their home matches at a stadium in the city of Lviv.

The ongoing military conflict in Ukraine raised numerous concerns among foreign footballers playing for Ukrainian football clubs, including in the FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

Six foreign players from the Shakhtar FC skipped a flight back to Ukraine after a friendly against Lyon FC on July 19 and decided to remain in France, rather than return to a conflict-stricken Ukraine. They cited security concerns.

The players refusing to travel back were Brazilians Douglas Costa, Fred, Dentinho, Alex Teixiera, Ismaily and Argentinian Facundo Ferreyra, who had their combined transfer deals at the FC Shakhtar worth at a total of $77 million.

Costa, a reported target for Manchester United earlier this year, had then voiced his concern. “We all run a deadly risk if we are in the region,” Costa had posted on Instagram. “I like the club, the people, the city, but I’m afraid. We want to stay at the club, but we must have risk-free working conditions.”

Several days later, three Argentinian football players of Kharkiv FC —midfielders Alejandro Gomez, Jose Sosa and forward Jonatan Cristaldo — decided against returning to conflict-hit Ukraine and stayed back in their country. They also cited security concerns. (agencies)