Kiev soldier, woman killed in breach of holiday truce: military
A Ukrainian soldier and an elderly woman have been killed as government forces and pro-Russian separatists clashed in the first violation of a holiday truce, a Ukraine military spokesman said Sunday.
The victims are the first since the warring sides agreed on Tuesday to halt fire through the New Year holidays in the latest attempt to cease hostilities, after a series of previous attempts had failed.
Since the latest truce came into force, both government and separatist forces have accused each other of using heavy and light arms.
On Sunday, Ukraine's military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said separatist fighters had deployed light weapons, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortar launchers, and a tank against the Kiev forces.
"Over the past 24 hours ... one Ukrainian soldier was killed and another three were wounded," he told reporters, adding that the village of Zaitseve some 55 kilometres (34 miles) north of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk was the epicentre of the most recent clashes.
As a result of shelling, an elderly woman had been heavily injured in the village which is partly controlled by Kiev, he said.
She died on her way to a hospital, Motuzyanyk added, noting that shrapnel had hit her in her own home.
"Her condition was too severe," he said.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists that broke out in eastern Ukraine in April, 2014.
Kiev and the West have blamed Russia for fuelling the insurgency and sending regular troops across the border, claims that Moscow denies.
A series of truce agreements have helped significantly reduce the fighting, although sporadic clashes continue near the line of contact.
© 2015 AFP