Donetsk, Mar 15 - DAN. Seventeen children at a recreation centre in Svyatogorsk have been taken hostage by Ukrainian armed formations, the Donetsk People’s Republic Territorial Defence Headquarters reported on Tuesday.

The HQ said that residents of the recently liberated settlements of Mirny, Granitnoye and Staroignatyevka in the Telmanovsky district sent 17 children to the Svyatogorsk recreation centre on  February 20, 2022 (before these settlements were liberated by DPR forces).

According to the parents,  children told them by phone today that they had been taken to Slavyansk for “evacuation” in an unknown direction at 14:00 (15:00, Moscow time).

“We demand that the children be immediately returned to their parents and urge the international community to condemn the actions of the criminal Kiev regime,” the HQ quoted the worried relatives as saying.

After tensions increased dramatically on the contact line on February 17, the Donbass Republics leaders asked the Russian president for assistance. On February 24, President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation aimed at demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. On the same day, the DPR and LPR forces launched a liberation movement supported by Russian armed forces.  As of today, about 100 settlements have been liberated. Ukrainian nationalistic formations use civilians as a human shield and prevent their evacuation via humanitarian corridors. *jk