Four Ukrainian soldiers die in rebel fire: govt

5th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Four Ukrainian army troops were killed by rebel fire Sunday near a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine, where isolated clashes continue to violate a fragile ceasefire to end the year-long war, officials said.

The interior ministry said an army vehicle came under missile fire while crossing a bridge in Schastya, which is close to the separatist bastion of Lugansk.

Initial reports showed "militants had fired an anti-tank missile", the ministry said in a statement.

The previous day, the government reported the deaths of another three soldiers when a mine exploded a few kilometres from Donetsk, another separatist stronghold in the once thriving industrial east of the country.

The fatalities were the first announced by the authorities in almost a week after the death of a Ukrainian army soldier reported last Monday.

Some 6,000 people have been killed since fighting broke out between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government a year ago.

A February ceasefire between the two sides is largely holding but skirmishes continue, notably around Donetsk and the port of Mariupol, Kiev's largest remaining stronghold in the mostly rebel-held east.

Kiev and the West accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of supporting the insurgency with troops, tanks and heavy weapons -- accusations he rejects.

© 2015 AFP

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