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2 die in clashes despite ceasefire

A serviceman and a civilian have been killed as rebels in eastern Ukraine continue attacks despite a ceasefire declared three weeks ago, a security official said.

Volodymyr Polyoviy, a spokesman for Ukraine's national security council, said one civilian died and 16 others were injured in rebel mortar fire on the town of Shchastya, damaging the local hospital and a vocational school.

He also said one serviceman was killed and eight wounded over the 24 hours, but did not give details.

Rebel fire continued in the vicinity of the airport in Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city, he said. Ukrainian forces have held the airport against rebels since May.

More than 3,500 people have been killed in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels.

Ukrainian forces' withdrawal from Donetsk airport was among the issues discussed at a meeting yesterday between representatives of Ukraine, the rebels, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Russian state television reported.

Mr Polyoviy confirmed the meeting took place, but did not give details and said its results were not known.

The OSCE has steered the peace process that resulted in the September 5 ceasefire and a subsequent agreement under which both sides are to pull back heavy weapons in order to create a buffer zone.

Russia denies claims by Ukraine and Western countries that it has sent troops and equipment into Ukrainian territory to back the rebels.


From Belfast Telegraph