Heavy shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Wednesday afternoon killed at least four people, including civilians. Witnesses described a crater from a mortar blast in front of the hospital, along with shattered windows and a destroyed playground.
A hospital, six schools, and five kindergartens were damaged, the Associated Press news agency reported.
In the wake of Wednesday's shelling, EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini called for a temporary ceasefire of at least three days so that civilians could evacuate the conflict zone.
"The spiral of ever increasing violence in Eastern Ukraine needs to stop," read Mogeherini's statement, "The shelling of civilians, wherever it happens, is a grave violation of humanitarian law. Artillery should be immediately withdrawn from residential areas."
Eight other civilians were killed in clashes around the region in the preceding 24 hours, both rebel and government officials confirmed.
The fighting in the rebel-stronghold of Donetsk intensified throughout January after a month of relative calm. The United Nations estimates that more than 200 people were killed in the past three weeks.
Ukraine seeking weapons from the West
Amid the increase of violence in the east of his country, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he is certain that the United States will agree to equip the government army with weapons to help them fend off the pro-Russian rebels. Although the Obama administration had previously said it would not consider such a move, recent events have reportedly spurred the White House to review their policy.
"What we need is exactly modern warfare, which we've been lacking all this time," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told Western journalists.
For Germany's part, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out supplying Ukrainian troops with "deadly, lethal weapons" to fight the separtists.
Poroshenko will have the chance to discuss the matter directly with US Secretary of State John Kerry when he travels to Kyiv on Thursday.
es/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)