Fighting leaves 19 civilians, troops dead in Ukraine
At least 14 civilians and five government soldiers have been killed and dozens wounded in intense fighting in eastern Ukraine over the past 24 hours, both sides of the conflict say.
Pro-Russian forces said Thursday that government shelling killed eight residents and injured 33 others in areas surrounding their stronghold, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Meanwhile, six civilians were killed in five frontline towns in government-held territory and another 12 were wounded, a Ukrainian official said.
Government forces came under artillery bombardment 93 times over the past day, leaving five soldiers dead and 29 injured.
Fighting has picked up around east Ukraine in recent weeks, leaving hundreds of civilians dead.
Clashes are currently focused in the war-torn eastern Ukrainian city of Debaltseve, where pro-Russia fighters are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces.
This is while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Kiev government troops and pro-Russia fighters to observe a temporary ceasefire in Debaltseve, which would allow the evacuation of civilians trapped in the conflict.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev’s military operation started in April 2014 in a bid to crush the protests.
Violence intensified in May 2014 after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation. The fighting has left more than 5,300 people dead and over 12,200 wounded, the United Nations says.