• Ukrainian soldier killed in fresh clashes in rebel east: military

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    KIEV: One Ukrainian soldier was killed and another injured in fresh fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in the country’s separatist east, the military said Sunday.

    A series of truce agreements have helped reduce violence in the region, although sporadic clashes persist.

    “Over the past 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and another injured as a result of hostilities,” Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told journalists.

    The soldiers came under mortar fire near the city of Avdiyivka, located just outside Donetsk, the de facto capital of the pro-Russian rebels, Motuzyanyk said, adding that separatist fighters had become more active along the frontline.

    A spokesperson of the rebel region of Donetsk on Sunday accused Ukrainian troops of firing 193 times along the frontline over the past 24 hours, the separatists’ news agency reported.

    “The situation in the Donetsk People’s Republic remains tense,” the agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

    Kiev and the West have accused Russia of buttressing the rebels and sending in regular troops across the border, claims Moscow has repeatedly denied.

    Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said last month that it could take years to end the conflict, which has claimed more than 9,300 lives since it erupted in April 2014.

    Earlier this month, France and Germany held a round of talks with Kiev and Moscow as part of efforts to try to seek a lasting peace deal but no consensus was reached over elections in the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. AFP

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