Inmates flee as shells hit east Ukraine jail

Kiev - Over 100 inmates broke out of jail when shells rained down on a high-security prison in the besieged rebel stronghold of Donetsk in east Ukraine, killing one, local authorities said on Monday.

Mortar blasts rocked the correctional facility in a western district of the city on Sunday evening, hitting the living areas, administrative headquarters and an electrical substation, the city council said in a statement.

The bombardment sparked a mass jail break that saw scores of detainees flee the prison.

"A riot started in the facility and 106 people escaped their place of detention," the statement said, adding that three convicts were seriously wounded by the shelling.

By Monday morning some had been returned to the facility, with a prison official telling AFP that 40 inmates were still missing and thought to be hiding in buildings around the prison.

An AFP correspondent at the scene found the prison gates open and rebel gunmen patrolling around.

A shell hole some 50 cm deep could be seen in the asphalt in a jail yard.

Sporadic bombings

A spokesperson from the rebel Vostok battalion said that insurgent fighters had come to secure the location over fears that escaped prisoners could try and get arms.

An AFP crew reported hearing sporadic bombardments across the insurgent bastion overnight.

Inner city Donetsk has been pounded by heavy shelling over the past few days as Ukrainian forces have surrounded the city and vowed to retake the pro-Russian rebel bastion.

A growing number of civilian casualties have been reported as artillery bombardments have hit hospitals and homes around the beleaguered city.

Over 1300 have been killed and more than 285 000 people have fled their homes in the east due to fierce clashes in four months of what the Red Cross has already deemed a civil war.