18 killed in Ukraine fighting in past 24 hours: Official

Seven civilians and 11 soldiers have been killed in fighting in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours, government and rebel officials said Friday, a day after a deal was struck to end the conflict.

Kiev: Seven civilians and 11 soldiers have been killed in fighting in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours, government and rebel officials said Friday, a day after a deal was struck to end the conflict.

Separatist authorities said shelling killed three civilians and wounded five more in rebel bastion Lugansk while Ukraine`s military said 11 soldiers lost their lives and a further 40 were injured across the conflict zone.

Another two civilians were killed in Kiev-held Shchastya, north of Lugansk, and two in main rebel stronghold Donetsk, government and separatist officials said.

The casualties were the first to be reported since pro-Russian rebels and Kiev agreed a peace plan Thursday after marathon talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

A ceasefire across the conflict zone was meant to start at midnight Kiev time Sunday (2200 GMT Saturday) with both sides supposed to start pulling back heavy weaponry from along the frontline no later than two days after that.

Ahead of the truce Ukraine`s army said that the fiercest fighting remained focused around the strategic town of Debaltseve, where rebel fighters were battling to encircle government troops.

An AFP journalist in Donetsk said that sporadic missile salvos and dozens of artillery bombardments could be heard from the city starting early Friday morning.

At least 5,486 people have been killed and some 13,000 wounded in 10 months of fighting around east Ukraine since April, according to the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

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