Two civilians killed after Ukraine ceasefire: Pro-Kiev official
A pro-Kiev official says two civilians have been killed shortly after a ceasefire deal between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army went into effect in the east of the country.
Local governor Gennadiy Moskal said on Sunday that pro-Russia forces’ Grad missile fire struck the town of Popasna in the Lugansk region minutes after a truce became effective at 2200 GMT Saturday.
An elderly man and woman are said to have died in the attack.
The development comes as the Ukrainian military said in the same day that a ceasefire between government troops and pro-Russia forces in the east is being observed “in general.”
“In the conflict zone the ceasefire has been observed in general … Shelling (by pro-Russia activists) has been not regular and (has been) localized,” military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said.
A top pro-Russia commander, meanwhile, said that the forces opened fire in defense, after Ukrainian troops violated the ceasefire around the city of Debaltseve.
The ceasefire between the two sides came after marathon talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk led to the conclusion of an agreement between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany on Thursday to end the nearly-year-long conflict.
Under the deal, heavy weapons are also to be withdrawn from the frontlines of the conflict.
The fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on thousands of people since mid-April 2014.
Over 5,500 people have died and some 12,200 wounded in the conflict, the United Nations says. Around 1.5 million people have also been forced from their homes over the past months of turmoil.
Source of 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 launched military operations to silence pro-Russia protests there in mid-April 2014.
Violence intensified in May last year 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.
Back in September 2014, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk signed another ceasefire deal in the same city. However, the truce was violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces and thus failed to bear any practical result.