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Clashes in east Ukraine kill 3 soldiers, 1 pro-Russian

The file photo shows destruction left behind after shelling between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia militants in eastern Ukraine. (Photo by AFP)

Fresh clashes in eastern Ukraine have killed three government forces and one from the pro-Russia militants' camp in what has been described as the bloodiest escalation of conflict in weeks in the war-torn region.

Ukraine military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Sunday that three Ukrainian forces were killed in clashes that erupted following an offensive by pro-Russians to capture the city of Avdiivka.

“Today, the enemy attempted to seize the Avdiivka industrial zone,” said Motuzyanyk, adding that another soldier was wounded in the battle for the control of the city which has seen some fierce clashes on its outskirts over the last weeks.

Avdiivka lies close to Donetsk, the de facto capital of pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. Sources in Donetsk said one militant was killed and another wounded in the confrontation near Avdiivka.

Eastern Ukraine has been gripped with around 33 months of devastating violence which has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people.

The conflict has badly impacted relations between Russia and the West as the Western governments support Kiev’s claims regarding Moscow’s alleged intervention in the east. Russia has denied allegations of supporting the militants; however, it insists that it would intervene if Kiev intensifies its suppression of ethnic Russian population living in the territory.

The renewed violence on the outskirts of Avdiivka came despite a ceasefire announced in December. According to the deal, the warring sides are supposed to avoid using heavy weaponry. Reports on Sunday said, however, that the firefight involved artillery and large-caliber mortars.

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