July 18, 2015 / 11:27 AM / in 2 years

Rebel shelling in east Ukraine kills three civilians, soldier: Ukraine military

KIEV (Reuters) - Three civilians have been killed by shelling by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s separatist eastern regions, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday, following a week of the deadliest fighting in over a month.

One Ukrainian serviceman was also killed and four others were wounded, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a televised briefing.

The rebels in turn accused Ukrainian forces of intensifying attacks and firing at civilian areas.

More than 6,500 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in April last year. Attacks have lessened since a peace agreement was brokered in Minsk, Belarus, five months ago, but both sides accuse each other of violations.

“The vast majority of shelling and armed attacks by the rebels take place at night to avoid attracting the attention of international observers,” Lysenko said.

He said separatists had focused their attacks on residential areas north-west of rebel-held Donetsk city and that a woman, her granddaughter and a 49-year-old man had been killed.

Rebels accused the Ukrainian military of shelling the frontline town of Krasnohorivka overnight, but reported no casualties.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, has said neither side have fully withdrawn heavy artillery from the frontline as required by the peace deal.

On Friday, the head of the OSCE Ivica Dacic described a worsening humanitarian crisis in the east and urged both sides to adhere to the Minsk agreement, which he said was the only chance to achieve peace.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Keith Weir

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