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EU extends Ukraine sanctions as violence continues

The European Union has widened its sanctions to include leaders of the pro-Moscow rebellion in eastern Ukraine. This comes as tens of thousands flee from the growing conflict in the region.

The European Union on Saturday said it had added 11 separatist leaders to its black list of 61 Russians and pro-Kremlin Ukrainians it accuses of fomenting the current conflict in the east of Ukraine.

New names on the list include Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the unilaterally proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, and his counterpart in the Luhansk People's Republic, Marat Basirov. Rebel military leaders Nikolai Kozitsyn and Alexei Mosgovy were also targets of the asset freeze and travel ban.

The EU Official Journal said the sanctions go into effect on Saturday.

More attacks

This comes as violence in eastern Ukraine continues unabated, with both sides reporting attacks.

The Ukrainian border guard service said rebels had resumed missile attacks on government forces near the border with Russia, following

a separatist attack on Friday

that killed at least 23 government servicemen.

The military said government forces used artillery to respond to rebel fire, as well as scrambling jet fighters.

Rebel fighters also reported air strikes in the eastern town of Horlivka, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has pledged revenge for Friday's attack, saying the separatists would pay for the strike in their "scores and hundreds," despite being urged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday to exercise restraint in his offensive against the rebels.

Donetsk refugees

The government has meanwhile said it has come up with

a plan to oust rebels from their stronghold of Donetsk,

having last weekend recaptured the city of Slovyansk from the separatists.

Although Poroshenko said the plan would aim to protect civilians, thousands of people are reported to be leaving the million-strong city to flee the conflict by car and train.

Three months of fighting in the region

has claimed nearly 550 lives, as pro-Russian separatists try to obtain their goal of closer ties with Moscow in response to a pro-Western revolt in the capital, Kyiv.

tj/jlw (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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