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Ukraine government says five troopers killed in fighting in east

This image shows the funeral in Kiev of a Ukrainian serviceman reportedly killed in clashes with pro-Russia forces in Debaltseve, Donetsk region, December 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Ukrainian government says five troopers were killed in new clashes with pro-Russia forces in the volatile regions of eastern Ukraine.

Fighting on several fronts on Sunday left at least five troopers dead and nine others injured, the Ukrainian press office for military operations in the east said on Monday.

On the other side of the conflict, pro-Russia authorities reported substantial damage to civilian infrastructure, with several villages and Donetsk neighborhoods left without electricity and gas supplies.

Clashes between government troops and pro-Russia forces claimed the lives of two Ukrainian servicemen in the country’s east on Friday, according to Ukraine’s military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.

Meanwhile, peace observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have confirmed an upsurge of violence in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian government tanks move near Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, October 21, 2015. (Photo by AP)

The monitors said that the European peace forces stationed in eastern Ukraine were “saddened to see how little had changed” since the conflicting sides agreed on an “indefinite truce” in late December last year and ahead of the Christmas holidays.

An earlier peace deal was brokered by Russia, France, and Germany in Belarus’ capital, Minsk, in February 2015. The accord, known as Minsk II, reduced the hostilities on the ground but did not put a complete stop to them.

The OSCE says the two sides no longer respect clauses in the deal, hence the escalation of violence.

The armed conflict between government troops and pro-Russia forces has killed more than 9,600 since it began in 2014, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.

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