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Ukraine Violence Worsens as U.S. Weighs Arming Government Troops

Five Ukrainian government troops were killed and dozens more wounded in intensified fighting with pro-Russia rebels near the town of Debaltseve.
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Intensifying violence in eastern Ukraine has killed over 220 civilians in the past three weeks — a rate of more than 10 people a day — according to United Nations figures released Tuesday.

The U.N. blamed the "indiscriminate shelling of residential areas" for a death toll that it said has now surpassed 5,350 — including civilians and troops— since April. The shelling has hit both regions controlled by Ukraine government forces and areas held by pro-Russian rebels, the U.N. said.

"Bus stops and public transport, marketplaces, schools and kindergartens, hospitals and residential areas have become battlegrounds ... in clear breach of international humanitarian law," High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

The announcement comes a day after senior U.S. defense officials said the Obama administration was in "active and comprehensive discussions" on whether to provide heavy weapons to Ukrainian forces.

Hopes of a ceasefire between the Kiev government and pro-Russia rebels were dashed after talks in Belarus on Saturday broke down down after just four hours. State John Kerry was due to travel to Kiev on Thursday to meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.


- Alexander Smith

Reuters contributed to this report.