In Ukraine Six killed in surge of fighting

Electricity has been off since Sunday and water supplies are sporadic amid the shelling and gunfire.

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Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014 play

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014

(AFP)
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A surge in clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels despite a supposed truce left at six people dead on Monday in Ukraine's war-scarred east.

The overall death toll for the past two days rose to 11 after the bloodiest outburst of violence since Ukraine and its foes agreed an "indefinite" ceasefire in December.

"Since Sunday, there have been continuing clashes and heavy attacks on our positions," Ukraine's 72nd army brigade officer told AFP.

The military in Kiev said two of its soldiers had died overnight.

An AFP reporter in the town of Avdiivka near the de facto insurgent capital of Donetsk saw Ukrainian soldiers capture three rebels. Two of them later died of their wounds.

Electricity has been off since Sunday and water supplies are sporadic amid the shelling and gunfire.

The rebels also reported two civilians were killed by Ukrainian fire around Donetsk.

On Sunday four government soldiers and one rebel were reported killed around Avdiivka which is controlled by Ukrainian forces and comes under repeated attack from their Russia-backed foes in the nearly three-year conflict.

The 11 deaths put at risk yet another effort by exasperated mediators to end one of Europe's bloodiest conflicts since the 1990s Balkans wars.

Ukraine's industrial eastern region comprises coal mines and steel mills whose possession is coveted by both sides fighting a war since April 2014.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014 play

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014

(AFP)

The fighting broke out in the Russian-border regions of Donetsk and Lugansk after a February 2014 revolution ousted Ukraine's Moscow-backed leader and put the former Soviet republic on a pro-Western course.

The sides have since agreed to a series of temporary ceasefires and an "indefinite" one on December 23.

The violence had died down considerably until Sunday and it was not immediately clear what provoked the rebel attack.

The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people -- more than half of them civilians -- since 2014 and plunged Moscow's relations with the West to a post-Cold War low

Russia denies backing the insurgents and only admits that its "volunteers" and off duty soldiers had entered the war zone of their own free will.

Ukraine's biggest fear is that the war will turn into a "frozen conflict" in which the rebels control the country's most important industrial riches while battle lines remain unchanged.

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