NNA – Three Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and another three wounded in fresh clashes between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in the country’s separatist east, the military said Monday.
Two servicemen were killed by mortar fire near Avdiivka, an industrial hub 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the rebels’ de-facto capital Donetsk, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists.
Another one soldier was killed close to the village of Nevelske, 12 km northwest of Donetsk, Lysenko said, accusing pro-Russian rebels of using weapons banned by truce agreements.
The rebel defense ministry in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Monday in turn said Ukrainian forces had shelled southern rebel-held areas, injuring two civilians.
Despite the agreement of a ceasefire aimed at halting the 26-month war in east Ukraine, fighting has surged in recent days with Kiev reporting increasing numbers of deaths among their soldiers.
The latest fatalities come after the government on Sunday announced the deaths of six Ukrainian soldiers. Seven others died early last week, in the highest one-day death toll for two months.
Nearly 9,500 people have died since Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking eastern industrial regions revolted against Kiev’s pro-Western government in April 2014.
Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting rebels and deploying troops across the border, both claims that Moscow denies. ————AFP