Ukraine Says Rebels Boost Fighting in Troubled Eastern Areas

  • Situation in east has `deteriorated' amid overnight skirmishes
  • One soldier wounded near Donetsk, another in Luhansk region

The situation in Ukraine’s eastern conflict-torn regions deteriorated overnight as rebels used weapons banned under the Minsk peace accord and increased the number of their attacks, the military said.

Pro-Russian separatists fired 69 times at government troops in 24 hours, an increase from 29 such instances a day earlier, the Ukrainian military press office said on Facebook on Friday. Eduard Basurin, a military spokesman for the self-proclaimed rebel Donetsk People’s Republic, said by phone they were reacting to attacks and used only rifles when fighting back in Staromykhailivka, on the outskirts of Donetsk.

The situation in the area “has deteriorated,” the military press office said. “During the night, insurgents fired at our positions, using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements.”

One soldier was wounded in fighting in Maryinka near Donetsk and another was hurt by an explosive device in the Luhansk region, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said via video link from Kiev Friday.

The Minsk accord, agreed on in February 2015 by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, sought to end the conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed Russia for causing delays in the implementation of the accord, which has been repeatedly violated by skirmishes. His Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has denied such allegations.

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