At least seven Ukrainian troops have been killed in an apparent uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine, government officials said on Monday.
An armed conflict between government troops and separatist rebels has killed more than 9,600 since it began in 2014, according to the UN Human Rights Office. A January ceasefire had until recently helped to limit the fighting to sporadic shootouts.
The government’s press office for the operation in the east said it recorded an increase in fighting on several fronts on Sunday which left at least five killed and nine troops injured. Two more were killed and five injured Monday morning, north of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, the press office said.
Kyiv accused the rebels of using tanks and Grad multiple grenade launchers and said they recorded intensified fighting all along the front line — outside the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, in the south of the front-line north of Mariupol and west of Luhansk. The Grad launcher is among heavy-calibre weapons that should have been pulled back from the front line under a 2015 truce between the warring parties.