Kiev, April 20 : The Ukrainian military on Sunday accused pro-Russian rebels of bombarding its positions with heavy armament, including missile launchers, which are ostensibly prohibited under the Minsk peace accord signed last February.
The rebels were understood to have used Grad missile launchers, along with heavy artillery and mortars of more than 100 mm calibre, which were weaponry that should have been withdrawn in accordance with the separation of forces agreement, Spanish news agency Efe reported.
The attacks were conducted at several towns in the Donetsk region, the main insurgent bastion, including Avdiivka and Shirokino, both of which are near the strategically important Ukrainian-government-controlled city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
In addition, Ukrainian government positions were attacked using Grad missile launchers in the neighbouring Lugansk region. The attacks wounded three soldiers, one of them seriously, and two civilians.
Tensions along the line of separation of the forces have been on the rise in recent days with accusations by either side of truce violations, especially in the area around the Donetsk airport and the town of Shirokino.
Several Ukrainian soldiers died last week in combat with insurgent militias, who accuse Kiev of preparing an offensive to retake Donetsk.
Last Monday, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany agreed to the withdrawal of tanks, armoured vehicles, mortars and “heavy weapons of at least 100 mm calibre” from the combat zone.
The pullback of heavy weapons was part of the ceasefire deal agreed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in February after marathon talks in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
The deal, aimed at ending the 12-month-old conflict that has killed over 6,000 people, included a ceasefire from February 15, clear time lines for elections in eastern Ukraine, border control and prisoner exchange. (IANS)