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Image: Reuters

Renewed deadly violence in eastern Ukraine

September 29, 2014

Several people have been reported killed in eastern Ukraine as violence flared despite a fragile ceasefire. The fighting has centered on the area around the government-held Donetsk airport.

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Officials in Ukraine on Monday reported at least a dozen people in total, including soldiers and civilians, have died during the past day in clashes between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists in the country's east. It's the largest daily death toll since a ceasefire was agreed earlier this month.

"Nine soldiers were killed and 27 wounded in all," National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said of the military casualties in Kyiv, adding that some were caused by an attack on a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier.

Civilians were also reported to have been killed, with the city council in Donetsk saying on Monday that three people died and five more were wounded in shelling which damaged more than a dozen buildings in the city's north.

News agency DPA reports the separatists as saying that five of their fighters have been killed and eight injured.

Violence has persisted on and off in eastern Ukraine despite the September 5 ceasefire agreed in Minsk by Kyiv, the separatists and Russia. A further agreement including the creation of a "buffer zone" was signed on September 20. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has been striving to emphasize that the truce was working.

Poroshenko is facing upcoming parliamentary elections, through which he is keen to build support for reforms to turn Ukraine on a path towards European Union membership. Kyiv and Western nations say Russia has been fuelling the separatists in Ukraine's east with troops, supplies and weapons, something Moscow has denied.

The UN reports the conflict has claimed at least 3,500 lives since fighting began in eastern Ukraine in April.

Lenin statue toppled

Separately, protesors in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday toppled the country's biggest Lenin statue, which was seen as a symbol of the country's Soviet past.

Several statues of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian communist revolutionary leader, have been felled by activists in Ukraine since last winter, when the "Euromaidan" protest movement took hold.

Activists dismantle Ukraine's biggest monument to Lenin at a pro-Ukrainian rally in the central square of the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Sept. 28,
Protestors dismantled the massive Lenin statue in KharkivImage: picture alliance/AP Photo/Igor Chekachkov

In Kharkiv, a mainly Russian-speaking city of 1.5 million which however is seen as favoring the Kyiv government, the Lenin monument was removed in the space of about two hours. The monument's destruction appears to have the support of Ukrainian authorities. In comments posted on the social networking site Facebook, Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, wrote:

"Lenin? Let him fall... as long as nobody gets hurt."

se/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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