Ukraine rebels released 1,200 prisoners, says president

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UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-POLITICS-VOTE-POROSHENKOKiev: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited a frontline city in the restive southeast region and announced that rebels have released 1,200 people they captured during the nearly five-month conflict with government forces.

Reaffirming his solidarity with Mariupol, a strategic port town by the Azov Sea that has been brought under control of the government forces, Poroshenko tweeted that “we will not give up this land to anyone”, Xinhua reported.

During a visit to a metal plant, he told hundreds of factory workers that “this city was, is, and will be Ukrainian” and that “Mariupol proved that we won’t let anybody burn our city to the ground”.

Mariupol, a heavy industry hub, was under fierce insurgent attack recently before the government and the rebels inked a ceasefire Friday in Minsk.

Poroshenko said the insurgents released over the past four days about 1,200 captives.

Under the framework of the Minsk deal, 20 captured Ukrainian army soldiers were also released.

Rebel leader Andrei Purgin, who took part in the ceasefire talks, said he hopes an “all-for-all” prisoner exchange would go ahead as agreed in Minsk.

There have been no official reports yet on any release of captured insurgents.

The Minsk agreement has brought forth a glimmer of hope to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed about 3,000 lives, according to the latest UN estimates.

IANS