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Russian Media Made Up Story About Child Killed in Ukraine, Says BBC

The BBC said it had asked three Russian news networks that broadcast the story for the evidence they had to support it. Only NTV replied, citing official rebel spokespeople as their source, the BBC said.

A story run by Russian news networks about a 10-year-old girl supposedly killed by shelling in eastern Ukraine was not true, the BBC said Wednesday.

Russian media reported late last month that a girl had been killed in the Petrovsky district of the city of Donetsk, a pro-Russian rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine.

BBC correspondents released a video of their attempts to confirm the story Wednesday.

A rebel spokesman declined to give contact details for the girl's family, saying he did not want to "play with human tragedy."

Several locals told the BBC they had heard about the tragedy on television, but none knew the girl and none had heard or seen any shelling on the day of the reported death of the child.

"News travels fast here. We would know if it was here," one local resident said.

The city morgue director said he had not received the body and did not know where else it could have been taken.

The BBC then asked what it said was a group of Russian journalists in the area about the story.

"She [the 10-year-old shelling victim] doesn't exist," one tells the BBC journalist, adding that they "had to broadcast [the story]," without elaborating.

The BBC said it had asked three Russian news networks that broadcast the story for the evidence they had to support it. Only NTV replied, citing official rebel spokespeople as their source, the BBC said.

An information war has raged since the conflict in Ukraine began last year, with both sides accusing each other of distorting facts and using propaganda.

More than 6,000 people, including 42 children, have been killed in the conflict, according to the latest UN figures. Many civilians have been killed by shelling in towns and cities.

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