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East Ukraine bombing continues despite official ceasefire

Rebels continue shelling on town of Debaltseve even after ceasefire starts on Saturday
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen not far from Debaltseve,easternUkraineREUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Reuters –A government-held town in east Ukraine sandwiched between two rebel-controlled areas came under heavy shelling on Monday, a day after the start of a ceasefire that Russian-backed separatists say does not apply there.

A Kiev military source said four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in Debaltseve, a strategic railway junction town that has been the focus of most of the fighting in recent weeks.

A Reuters correspondent at Vuhlehirsk, about 6 miles to the west, heard heavy shelling, with blasts around every 10 seconds.

The ceasefire was negotiated at a summit of leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Belarus last week in an attempt to end 10 months of conflict in eastern Ukraine in which more than 5,000 people have been killed.

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Although fighting elsewhere ceased in the first minutes of Sunday after the ceasefire came into force, it has continued, or even escalated in Vuhlehirsk, military spokesman Anatoly Stelmakh told reporters.

"The illegal armed groups are not supporting the ceasefire," he said, adding the rebels were using Grad rockets and tanks to attack government forces holding the town.

"The number of attacks on Debaltseve has even increased in comparison to previous days and they are using all types of weapons," Stelmakh said. "The terrorists have been given the order to take Debaltseve at all cost."

In all, government positions had been fired on 112 times by rebels in the past 24 hours, with government forces firing only when they came under attack, Stelmakh said.

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