Ukraine truce upheld for first time says Poroshenko

AFP , Saturday 5 Sep 2015

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. (Photo: Reuters)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Saturday that the Western-backed truce signed in Minsk in February had been respected this week for the first time, despite pro-Russian rebels claiming a civilian had been killed.

"I have some good news. There has been no shooting on the front for a week," Poroshenko said in televised remarks. "This is the first week that the Minsk agreements are being implemented."

Poroshenko added that soldiers were still perishing in the conflict zone by stepping on landmines or in car crashes, but that none had died in battle.

On Friday, a Ukrainian soldier was killed in the blast of an "unknown explosive device" in the Lugansk area, one of the two eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

In a fresh bid to end the violence, the Ukrainian government and representatives of Moscow-backed separatists last week agreed to strive to end all ceasefire violations starting on Tuesday.

The Western-brokered ceasefire agreed in February had been punctuated by deadly incidents on an almost daily basis.

But the truce was nonetheless undermined on Wednesday when two civilians were killed and four soldiers wounded in an ambush while taking part in an anti-smuggling operation.

Meanwhile, Denis Pushilin, a leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine, has been elected as speaker of the local "parliament", replacing Andrei Purgin, the official separatists' website said.

Separatist officials also said Saturday that a civilian near Donetsk had been killed by shots fired by the Ukrainian army.

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