DONETSK, Ukraine: Ukraine said five of its troops were killed on Sunday by pro-Russian insurgents in the bloodiest clash in the war-scarred ex-Soviet republic in months.
Kiev military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin told Agence France-Presse that another six soldiers were wounded in the battle for control of the strategic city of Debaltseve.
The railroad hub on the edge of the war zone in January 2015 was the scene of one of the conflict’s deadliest confrontation in the 31-month war.
“Today, the rebels staged a massive attack in our positions in the Debaltseve region,” Matyukhin told AFP by telephone.
He said the firefight lasted for two hours and involved both artillery and large-caliber grenade launchers.
“Unfortunately, five of our fighters were killed and six injured,” the Ukrainian military spokesman said.
The January 2015 Debaltseve battle led to peace talks the following month that drew in the leaders of Germany and France.
The February 2015 agreements that were also signed, in the Belarussian capital Minsk, by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin were meant to end one of Europe’s bloodiest conflict in decades by the end of that year.
But it has been repeatedly broken by both sides and low-scale warfare continues in the European Union’s backyard in a conflict that has claimed some 10,000 lives.