“We fear that a big war will start. People are scared and packed up their bags,” said villager Liudmila Momot, who collected some blankets, warm clothes and other items in the debris.
Her village of Nevelske, northwest of the rebel-held city of Donetsk, is only about three kilometers (two miles) from the line of contact between the separatists and the Ukrainian military and has been emptied of all but five people.
Small arms fire frequently is heard in the daytime, giving way to the booms of light artillery and mortar shelling after dusk.
With the bloody conflict now more than seven years old, there are fears in Ukraine and the West that a buildup of armed forces on Russia’s side of the border could lead to an invasion or the resumption of full-scale hostilities.
Rebels targeted Nevelske with shelling twice in the last month, damaging or destroying 16 of the village’s 50 houses and rattling the handful of nervous residents who remain.
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