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Ukrainian ceasefire takes hold

By Colin Francis

A ceasefire has taken hold in eastern Ukraine after the president's representative signed a deal with Russian-backed separatists in an effort to bring an end to nearly five months of fighting.

President Petro Poroshenko said he ordered government forces to stop hostilities following a protocol signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the rebels and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europ at talks in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.

"Human life is of the highest value," Mr Poroshenko said.

"And we need to do everything that is possible and impossible to stop the bloodshed and end people's suffering."

The truce came into force at 4pm UK time. The United Nations has put the death toll in the conflict at more than 2,600.

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