At least 14 soldiers were killed overnight in Donetsk.
Four days before a watershed presidential election in Ukraine, sporadic fighting was reported on Thursday in the east of the country, where government forces are seeking to subdue pro-Russian separatists.
The clashes could represent a risk for the interim authorities in Kiev, the capital, who have claimed to be getting the upper hand against the rebels, encouraged by rifts among separatist groups occupying public buildings in numerous cities in the southeast, nytimes.com informs.
Ukraine’s government has confirmed a deadly attack on troops in the eastern region of Donetsk, with reports saying at least 14 soldiers died, the BBC reports.
Heavily armed “terrorists” attacked a checkpoint in the Volnovakha area, killing or wounding a number of soldiers, the defence ministry said.
Russia appears to be withdrawing troops from its border with Ukraine.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a tweet that Russian troop activity near the Ukraine border suggested some Russian forces were preparing to pull back.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops near the border to withdraw to their bases earlier this week. Correspondents said removing the troops – estimated to number 40,000 – could help de-escalate the Ukraine crisis.
Ukrainians go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president but voting in Donetsk and Luhansk has been seriously disrupted by the insurgency there.
Separatists have been skirmishing with security forces in Donetsk for weeks but this is the deadliest attack on soldiers to date.
Martial law introduced in self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic
Martial law has been intriduced in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), the republic’s press service told Itar-Tass.
Mobilization of men aged from 18 to 45 has been declared in connection with the introduction of the martial law in the region.
The latest reports, which have not been confirmed yet, said that armed clashes between representatives of people’s self-defense forces and Ukrainian law enforcers continued in the north of the self-proclaimed republic, the press center said.
A source in the regional Interior Ministry said earlier in an interview with Itar-Tass that armed clashes were reported near the region’s cities of Rubezhnoye and Lisichansk. He also said that a bridge over the Seversky Donets River had been blown up.