Three killed in east Ukraine despite Orthodox Easter truce

1st May 2016, Comments 0 comments

One Ukrainian soldier and two pro-Russian rebels were killed over the weekend in eastern Ukraine despite an Orthodox Easter truce, officials on both sides said on Sunday.

One Ukrainian soldier was killed near the town of Svitlodarsk in the Donetsk region while seven others were wounded near the village of Avdiivka and near the city of Mariupol, said Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a Ukrainian military spokesman.

He said that despite a new ceasefire rebels ramped up attacks near their stronghold of Doenetsk, using grenades and light weapons near Svitlodarsk.

Rebels for their part accused the Ukrainian military of violating the ceasefire, saying two of their own had been killed.

"As a result of shelling by Ukrainian hit squads, two servicemen died during Easter night," senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin told reporters.

Separatists also accused the Ukrainian military of shooting at rebel-controlled territory 160 times and targeting the suburbs of Donetsk, among other locations.

The latest casualties came as the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian insurgents on Friday agreed in the Belarussian capital Minsk a new truce that began from midnight.

The agreement is aimed at reinforcing a deal co-signed by France and Germany in February 2015 after an upsurge in violence in the industrial east of Ukraine.

The deal came ahead of Orthodox Easter Sunday and covers holidays that include Labour Day on May 1 and the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany during World War II marked on May 9.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned that the bloodshed had reached levels not seen for months.

Around 9,300 people have died and more than 21,000 have been injured since the revolt against Ukraine's pro-Western leadership erupted two years ago in the predominantly Russian-speaking east.

A series of truce agreements have helped reduce the violence, although sporadic clashes persist, preventing the two sides from reaching a political reconciliation deal.

© 2016 AFP

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