Ukraine accuses rebels of firing Grad rockets

Ukraine government forces on Saturday accused pro-Russian separatists of using Grad multiple rocket launchers overnight in the country`s war-torn east in violation of a truce deal signed last month.

Kiev: Ukraine government forces on Saturday accused pro-Russian separatists of using Grad multiple rocket launchers overnight in the country`s war-torn east in violation of a truce deal signed last month.

Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters that separatists fired the heavy weapons towards the village of Novotoshkivka from their Lugansk stronghold.

Around 40 missiles were aimed at a Ukrainian checkpoint, while another 20 hit a residential area, he claimed, adding that there had been no military or civilian casualties over the last 24 hours.

The use of Grads is prohibited under the ceasefire brokered by French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin that came into force on February 15.

Despite the agreement, eastern Ukraine has been the scene of daily clashes. The nearly year-long conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Meanwhile, Turkish diplomat Ertugrul Apakan, who heads the OSCE monitoring team, called on both sides to stop the fighting around the village of Shyrokyne, where a civilian was killed on Thursday.

"I am profoundly disappointed that, in the face of mounting deaths and injuries among the civilian population, the calm that prevailed in Shyrokyne for two days has not endured," he said in a statement issued overnight Friday.

"I urge all sides to silence their guns immediately, and to allow the residents of Shyrokyne to return to their homes and to a peaceful existence."

The village is 10 kilometres (six miles) from the strategic port of Mariupol, the last major city in the rebel-controlled east still held by Kiev.

 

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