Ukrainian soldier killed in intense frontline clashes

1st July 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Ukrainian soldier was killed in fighting in the separatist east, a Kiev military spokesman said Wednesday, as clashes raged on despite a four-month truce.

"We lost one soldier and 10 more were injured" in the previous 24 hours of fighting, top military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters.

He said the exchanges of mortar and artillery fire were fiercest on the outskirts of Donetsk, the pro-Russian rebels' de facto capital.

An AFP team, however, also heard intense overnight battles in Gorlivka, a heavily-damaged frontline city under rebel control about thirty kilometres (20 miles) northeast of Donetsk.

Local residents reported hiding in basements from shells falling in nightly escalations of battles for the past two weeks.

"The shelling was very intense this week -- even worse than before the Minsk agreements", said Igor, 48, referring to the truce deal signed on February 12 in the Belarusian capital.

"We do not know who is doing the shooting. It comes from all sides", added Alla, 49, who like many others refused to disclose her last name citing security concerns.

If the rebels "decide to continue attacking, we will have a lot of victims. We need a peaceful solution", she added.

A team of monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that visited Gorlivka this week recorded several shells landing within city limits.

"The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days", the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission added in a daily update Wednesday

The conflict between pro-Russian rebels and Western-backed government troops has claimed more than 6,500 lives since April 2014.

© 2015 AFP

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