KIEV (Reuters) – Seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed when separatist shelling hit their armoured vehicle near Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine, a military spokesman said on Monday, putting a fragile ceasefire under further strain.
Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said tank fire from the separatists struck a large armoured carrier on Sunday night during rebel attempts to storm Donetsk international airport, which is held by government forces.
The rebels hold key points inside the city itself, an industrial hub with a pre-war population of about one million.
“During the evening attack, the Ukrainian armoured transporter, with its crew and a paratroop unit, took a direct hit from a tank,” Lysenko told journalists.
“Intensive fighting broke out. Our paratroopers sustained losses,” Lysenko said, separately telling Reuters that seven soldiers had been killed. He said nine Ukrainian soldiers in all had been killed in the past 24 hours and 27 injured.
Under pressure from Western governments, Poroshenko called the ceasefire after his troops suffered big battlefield losses against the separatists in August which Kiev ascribed to the direct intervention of Russian forces.
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