Kiev says three soldiers killed despite lull in fighting
Three government soldiers were killed in war-torn eastern Ukraine over the past 24 hours, the country's military said Friday, after a two-day lull in which no fatalities were reported.
"Over the past day, three Ukrainian soldiers died and seven were wounded," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said, without specifying where or how the servicemen were killed.
The latest casualties come after a stuttering truce had finally appeared to take effect, helping staunch the bloodshed that has cost at least 5,800 lives since April 2014.
Lysenko said that fighting with pro-Russian rebels had halted along most of the frontline but that there were still clashes in villages around the ruins of Donetsk airport, one of the most fought-over prizes in the conflict.
"Rebels attacked using artillery, mortars and tanks and tried to storm our positions," Lysenko said. "All the attacks were beaten back."
The lingering violence will put strain on a European-brokered peace plan, just as both sides said they were complying with a key step to withdraw heavy weapons from the frontline.
Kiev on Thursday said that it had started pulling back 100mm cannons, while the separatists claim to have already nearly completed their pull-back.
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, however, say that while they have seen weapons movements on both sides they cannot yet confirm that a full withdrawal is taking place.
The pull-back of heavy weapons is meant to help establish a buffer zone between the two sides and is supposed to be completed within 14 days.
© 2015 AFP