DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian city of Donetsk was rocked by blasts on Saturday, even as government forces and pro-Russian separatists prepared to create a buffer zone to separate the warring sides. A memorandum signed early on Saturday calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons, including artillery, and all foreign fighters from a 30 kilometer-wide buffer zone.
A Reuters correspondent in Donetsk, the main industrial hub in Ukraine’s turbulent east, said several powerful explosions were heard in the morning. A plant producing munitions and industrial explosives had been hit, municipal authorities said. Explosions were also heard from the direction of the main international airport which government forces are still clinging on to despite rebels' attempts to loosen their control.
A nine-point memorandum was signed earlier in the day in the Belarussian capital of Minsk by the separatists and envoys from Moscow and Kiev. “According to the text of the memorandum, each of the sides must pull back its heavy equipment and arms from today,” Volodymyr Polyovy, an official of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, told journalists.
The Minsk deal, which was also supported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is an attempt to build on a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement which has been regularly violated. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and seven others were wounded in overnight violence, a military official told journalists.
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