At least seven Ukrainian troops have been killed in an apparent uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine, government officials said on Monday.
An armed conflict between government troops and separatist rebels has killed more than 9,600 since it began in 2014, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. A January cease-fire had until recently helped to limit the fighting to sporadic shoot-outs.
The government’s press office for the operation in the east said it recorded an increase in fighting on several fronts on Sunday which left at least five killed and nine troops injured. Two more were killed and five injured Monday morning, north of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, the press office said.
Kiev accused the rebels of using tanks and Grad multiple grenade launchers and said they recorded intensified fighting all along the front line — outside the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, in the south of the front-line north of Mariupol and west of Luhansk. The Grad launcher is among heavy-caliber weapons that should have been pulled back from the front line under a 2015 truce between the warring parties.
In Donetsk, self-proclaimed separatist authorities reported substantial damage to civilian infrastructure, with several villages and Donetsk neighborhoods left without electricity and gas supply. The separatist Donetsk News Agency reported one civilian killed and three injured in Makiivka, north-east of Donetsk. The rebels also reported that government forces opened fire on a check-point to the north of Donetsk where thousands of civilians pass through every day between rebel-held and government-controlled territories.
Both sides reported that fighting continued on Monday morning.
SOURCE: The Associated Press