October 14, 2015 / 9:05 AM / 3 years ago

Soldier killed in east Ukraine, minister blames rogue group

KIEV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian serviceman was killed and two wounded in separatist eastern regions despite a ceasefire deal, Ukraine’s defense minister said on Wednesday, suggesting a rogue group not controlled by rebel authorities could be behind the attack.

The truce has been largely holding since the start of September, allowing the two sides to extend a pull-back of weapons and raising hopes for the fragile peace process.

The attack, the first in several weeks to result in a fatality on the Ukrainian side, took place on Tuesday when separatists fired grenade launchers at Ukrainian forces, Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said.

“We’re finding out exactly what happened. On the other side there are people who aren’t controlled by the leadership of the so-called DNR and LNR (self-proclaimed separatist republics), therefore our representative and the Russian representative are checking the facts. Only after that will a decision be taken on our further actions,” he said.

The withdrawal of weapons from the frontline was agreed on condition both sides fully respect the ceasefire.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 8,000 people since mid-April 2014. Russia denies Western and Kiev’s charges of direct involvement in the conflict.

Reporting by Natalia Zinetrs; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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