Three civilians killed in eastern Ukraine as talks stall

Kiev (IANS) At least three civilians have been killed and four wounded in shelling in eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours as tensions escalated between government troops and pro-independence rebels.

The attack came amid a new round of Minsk peace talks aimed at establishing a comprehensive ceasefire in the region, which ended without tangible progress.

An elderly couple, whose car was hit by a mortar shell while travelling on a rural road near the front line of the fighting in Lugansk region, were among the victims, said Gennady Moskal, head of the Lugansk Regional Administration, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

A person was killed and another wounded during sporadic artillery fire on the outskirts of the town of Enakievo in Donetsk region, said the self-styled defence ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Besides, three members of a family were wounded by shrapnel when a mortar landed in the yard of their house in Mariynka town, according to the regional department of the interior ministry.

The government-controlled Mariynka saw intensive fighting on Tuesday, said Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, accusing the rebels of an attempt to seize the town.

“The enemy used tanks, mortars and artillery and tried to advance, but Ukrainian military have repealed the attacks and successfully retained their positions,” Lysenko said.

In the past one day, three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, but there were no deaths, Lysenko added.

The rebels have not commented on their casualties in the last 24 hours.

On Tuesday, representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe held talks in Minsk, capital of Belarus, to explore political ways out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s representative in the contact group, Iryna Gerashchenko, declined to comment on the results achieved during the talks, saying the negotiations were “difficult”.

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