Ukraine, rebels accuse each other of violating new ceasefire

Ukraine, rebels accuse each other of violating new ceasefire

Kiev (AFP) - Both Ukrainian military and Kremlin-backed rebels on Friday accused each other of breaking a new truce.

established after midnight ahead of the start of the new school year.

"A serviceman of the armed forces of the Donetsk People's Republic who was killed by the bullet of a Ukrainian sniper became the first 'victim'" of the ceasefire, separatist news agency website quoted senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin as saying.

The ceasefire came into effect after midnight ahead of the new school year.

The Ukrainian side of joint ceasefire monitoring centre said the first breach of the new truce was recorded less than two minutes into it, when the separatists shelled the village of Talakivka in Donetsk region with small arms and heavy machine guns.

"The armed forces of Ukraine did not give in to provocations and did not open fire in response," it said in a statement posted on the defence ministry website.

Kiev also reported the loss of a government soldier just minutes after midnight, though the injuries that led to his death were received during the shelling earlier this week before the ceasefire went into effect.

The new truce was agreed at a meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine attended by the separatists on Wednesday.

In June the warring sides agreed on a so-called "harvest ceasefire" from June 24 that was set to last until August 31.

The US special envoy on Ukraine Kurt Volker on Tuesday also backed a fresh ceasefire to come in force as schools start on September 1.

The conflict between Russia-backed fighters and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014, when pro-Russian forces declared parts of eastern Ukraine independent following Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

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