KIEV: Ukraine’s truce and troops withdrawal deal lay in tatters on Tuesday after the deadliest wave of attacks by pro-Russian insurgents in more than a month left nine soldiers and four civilians dead.
Thirteen soldiers and civilians were killed in 24 hours, officials said on Monday, in the worst violence since the government and pro-Russian insurgents struck a shaky truce in their five-month conflict.
The European-brokered peace deal finalized a week ago in Minsk commits the Ukrainian army and rebels to ceasefire and to separate themselves with a 30-kilometer (18-mile) buffer zone.
The insurgency has already killed more than 3,200 people according to United Nations figures and, despite the deal, a lasting solution seems no closer.
National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said rebels had killed nine soldiers, including paratroopers traveling in an armored vehicle.
Three civilians were killed in the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk, and another local person died in Makiyivka, a city just northwest of Donetsk, when a shell hit a residential house, local officials said.
Military officials said on Monday that separatists with tanks staged repeated attacks on the airport outside Donetsk, a strategic flashpoint, which were repelled by the army, despite losses.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stressed that the army would continue fighting if the insurgents failed to silence their guns and announced on Sunday that the army had created a “reliable frontline” in the east.
A Russian army delegation of some 70 people arrived last week in eastern Ukraine, headed by the deputy commander of Russian ground forces, Alexan-der Lentsov. Several members of the delegation traveled to Donetsk to urge the separatists to respect the truce.