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Ukraine says 23 servicemen killed in 24 hours of fighting

Ukraine’s military on Friday reported the death of 23 servicemen in clashes across the separatist east that threatened to shatter slim Western hopes of a truce in the three-month insurgency.

“In the past 24 hours, while performing special assignments in various regions where the active phase of anti-terrorist operations is underway, 23 servicemen from the Ukrainian armed forces and state border service were killed,” spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov wrote in a Facebook post.

The official spokesman of Ukraine’s intensifying campaign against pro-Russian rebels added that 93 troops had sustained “wounds and contusions of varying severity”.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a separate statement that the toll included 19 troops who were killed early on Friday in a multiple rocket attack staged by the insurgents near the Russian border.

Friday’s official death toll is the highest since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tore up a brief ceasefire with the rebels on July 1 and relaunched an offensive that managed to dislodge the militias from key eastern strongholds they have controlled for nearly three months.