Sunday, 24 June 2018 07:26 GMT

Deaths of soldiers civilians strain Ukraine's cease fire

(MENAFN - Arab News) KIEV: Three civilians and two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in eastern Ukraine renewing pressure on Thursday on a four-month truce in the separatist conflict and international monitors said violence could surge at any moment.
The two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 13 others wounded by separatists using heavy weapons in violation of a cease-fire agreed in February a military spokesman said in Kiev.
The three civilians were killed on Wednesday night in a mortar attack near Gorlivka which is in separatist-held territory north of the regional city of Donetsk. The military and the rebels blamed each other for the attack.
A cease-fire between the two sides brokered in February by the leaders of Ukraine Russia Germany and France has stemmed large-scale fighting though regular skirmishes near Donetsk are claiming lives almost daily on both sides.
A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said the situation had stabilized following serious fighting between government forces and separatists at Maryinka 23 km west of Donetsk on June 3 which shook the tenuous truce.
But he said re-location of personnel and weapons in the area meant 'the normal pattern of violence has re-asserted itself ... the threat of a sudden flare-up still remains.'
Areas in and around Donetsk airport which fell to the rebels in January remained the primary focus of fighting with 331 explosions recorded on June 9 he said.
Despite claims to the contrary neither side has completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons as agreed in the four-power talks last February in Minsk Belarus Bociurkiw said.
The Minsk deal is held by all sides as the basis for reaching a peace settlement in a conflict which erupted in April 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and which has cost more than 6400 lives according to UN figures.
But the United States its Western allies and Kiev accuse Russia of failing to implement the Minsk agreement by keeping its troops in Ukraine and arming the rebels.

Deaths of soldiers civilians strain Ukraine's cease fire

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