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Ukraine Town of Vuhlehirsk Comes Under Heavy Shelling Despite Cease-Fire

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VUHLEHIRSK, Ukraine — A government-held town in east Ukraine came under heavy shelling Monday, a day after the start of a cease-fire that Russian-backed separatists say doesn't apply there.

A Kiev military source said four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in Debaltseve, a strategic railway junction town that has been the focus of most of the fighting in recent weeks. A Reuters correspondent at Vuhlehirsk, about 6 miles to the west, heard heavy shelling, with blasts around every 10 seconds.

The cease-fire was negotiated at a summit of leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Minsk, Belarus last week in an attempt to end 10 months of conflict in eastern Ukraine in which more than 5,000 people have been killed. Although fighting elsewhere ceased after the ceasefire came into force, it has continued, or even escalated in Vuhlehirsk, military spokesman Anatoly Stelmakh told reporters.

"The illegal armed groups are not supporting the ceasefire," he said, adding the rebels were using Grad rockets and tanks to attack government forces holding the town. "The number of attacks on Debaltseve has even increased in comparison to previous days and they are using all types of weapons...The terrorists have been given the order to take Debaltseve at all cost."

In all, government positions had been fired on 112 times by rebels in the past 24 hours, with government forces firing only when they came under attack, Stelmakh said.

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- Reuters

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