Pro-Russian Separatists Attack Ukraine Govt Forces

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Pro-Russian separatists and the government in Ukraine on Tuesday accused each other of again violating the ceasefire agreement in the east of the country.

wpid-Kenya-Shopping-Mall-Attack.jpgThe claims and counter-claims came amid reports of fresh fighting at the strategically important Donetsk airport.

In comments carried by the Interfax news agency, Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said that government forces had not begun their withdrawal from built-up areas and the frontline, as agreed to in Minsk earlier this month.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in Kiev that the separatists had violated the ceasefire by attacking government forces at Donetsk airport.

Two attempts to storm the airport were repelled, Lysenko said, according to an official transcript.

An unnamed rebel commander told Interfax that militias had managed to take control of parts of the airport. Donetsk city authorities said that the situation was extremely tense as shelling continued in the airport’s vicinity.

Lysenko said three soldiers had been wounded in the past 24 hours.

On Monday, at least 15 people were killed in the worst fighting in the area since the ceasefire was declared three weeks ago.

Last week, negotiations began on delineating a buffer zone between the warring sides.

The talks between military officials from Ukraine, Russia and separatist commanders were mediated by representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Separatist leaders and government representatives agreed in a September 20 memorandum that heavy weapons should be withdrawn 15 kilometres from the front line on each side.

Meanwhile, the European Union said on Tuesday it was closely monitoring developments.

“While encouraging developments have been registered … relevant parts of the (Minsk) protocol will need to be properly implemented,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, said after talks between the bloc’s ambassadors in Brussels.

The European Union and United States have slapped a new round of sanctions on Russia despite the ceasefire. EU officials have said that the sanctions might be reviewed if the ceasefire holds.

GNA

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