Ukraine ceasefire largely holding despite sporadic overnight shelling

Ukrainian forces said on Monday they had come under sporadic fire overnight from pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, but Reuters witnesses said overall a ceasefire agreed between the two sides appeared to be holding.

Kiev: Ukrainian forces said on Monday they had come under sporadic fire overnight from pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, but Reuters witnesses said overall a ceasefire agreed between the two sides appeared to be holding.

A Reuters reporter heard a short blast of artillery fire early on Monday to the east of Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov near the Russian border which saw heavy fighting before Friday evening`s ceasefire.

Both the rebels and the Ukrainian military insist they are strictly observing the ceasefire and blame their opponents for any violations. 

The Ukrainian military`s press centre listed overnight rebel violations of the ceasefire accord in five sites, while the separatists accused government forces of preparing to storm a town near rebel-held Donetsk, the region`s industrial hub.

There were no reports of any overnight casualties.

The most serious violation of the ceasefire at the weekend occurred on the eastern edge of government-held Mariupol, where government forces came under artillery attack late on Saturday. One woman was killed and four people injured in the shelling.

Local officials in Mariupol said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was expected on Monday to visit the city of 500,000, a key port for Ukraine`s steel exports. Kiev could not immediately confirm the visit.

Ukrainian media said the rebels had handed over 15 prisoners-of-war, the first stage of an exchange both sides committed to under the terms of the ceasefire accord.

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