15 civilians killed in Ukraine

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Kiev, Feb 2 (IANS/EFE) At least 15 civilians have been killed and 42 injured over the past several days by Ukrainian artillery fire in separatist-controlled Donetsk, city officials said Monday.

According to a city council statement posted on its website, the shelling continued early Monday with explosions being heard in the city.

The command of the pro-Russian separatist militias in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, DPR, reported that government forces shelled areas in the vicinity of Debaltsevo, a strategic city controlled by Ukrainian troops.

Earlier Monday, the Ukrainian military command said at least five Ukrainian soldiers died and 29 were injured over the past 24 hours in clashes with the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The spokesperson for the Ukrainian General Staff, Vladislav Seleznev, told reporters that there were 465 wounded soldiers being treated currently in the country’s hospitals.

The military also said the Ukrainian forces held their positions Sunday and caused “significant losses” to the pro-Russian militias, described as “terrorists” by Kiev.

The militias fired artillery barrages overnight at Ukrainian troops and areas they control, including Debaltseve, Nikishin, Chernukhino and Zolotoy.

According to the United Nations, more than 5,000 people, including civilians and combatants, have died in eastern Ukraine since April 2014 in a conflict that has also caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees.