World / Europe

Violence returns to E Ukraine as Easter truce ends

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-05-17 03:59

KIEV -- Representatives of the Ukrainian government and independence-seeking militants said on Monday that violence has resumed in eastern Ukraine after a period of relative calm that started on May 1, when the country celebrated Orthodox Easter.

Pavlo Zhebrivsky, the Kiev-appointed head of Donetsk regional military-civilian administration, said that the heightened tensions have resulted in combat and civilians casualties over the past day.

"Unfortunately, the Easter truce is over. The shelling has increased significantly. Ukrainian soldiers and a resident of Avdeevka town were wounded," Zhebrivsky wrote on Facebook.

Later in the day, Kiev military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that one government serviceman was killed and another wounded in 36 attacks on Ukrainian positions in the past 24 hours.

The insurgent leadership has confirmed that the security situation in the restive region has aggravated in the past day, blaming Kiev for ceasefire violations.

"The situation continues to deteriorate. The Ukrainian forces have shelled our territory 340 times over the past day," Eduard Basurin, the senior rebel commander, told reporters.

On April 30, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine crisis reached an agreement in Minsk to establish a comprehensive ceasefire in the country' s eastern regions during the period of Easter and the May holidays, observed in Ukraine on May 1-9.

On Saturday, an envoy of the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic to the Contact Group Denis Pushilin said that insurgents were ready to discuss the extension of the Easter truce during the next meeting of the group on May 18.

The crisis in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014, when Kiev launched offensives against insurgents in a bid to retake the cities and towns they seized. The conflict has claimed more than 9,300 lives and wounded almost 22,000 others.

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