Two Ukrainian soldiers and a civilian died in the shelling of frontline villages Monday, as fears rose of a Russian invasion of its Western-backed neighbour.
Ukraine’s national police said the two soldiers died in Zaitseve, a village 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the rebel stronghold Donetsk, with three more wounded.
Officials identified the civilian as Roman Shyrokiy, 51, a resident of the Novoluganske, about 10 kilometres (six miles) east of where the soldiers died.
Shyrokiy’s death marks the first officially confirmed civilian casualty of the year in Ukraine’s eight-year separatist conflict, which has claimed more than 14,000 lives and forced 1.5 million from their homes.
Ukraine’s Western-backed leadership has now confirmed the death of seven soldiers this year.
The Russian-backed rebels in Lugansk also reported that one of their envoys to a joint contact centre the separatists had set up with Kyiv aimed at avoiding direct clashes had been injured in an attack on his car.
Images on social media showed the charred remains of the envoy’s vehicle, although the nature of the attack, which also injured the driver, were unclear.