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Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Donetsk region on November 19, 2014 (AFP) photo: Anatolii Stepanov
Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Donetsk region on November 19, 2014 (AFP) photo: Anatolii Stepanov
News

International monitors shot at in east Ukraine: OSCE

Yvonne Williams

Kiev (AFP)

A convoy of international monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was shot at by “uniformed personnel” in east Ukraine, the organisation said Thursday.

The OSCE said that a uniformed man on the back of a flat-bed cargo truck fired two shots in the direction of their vehicles as they were driving on Wednesday afternoon near the government-held town of Mariinka, some 15 kilometres west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

“The bullets struck about two metres from the second OSCE vehicle,” the statement said.

“Staff travelling in this vehicle heard sharp sounds originating from the road or bullet fragments impacting on their car,” the statement said, adding that the convoy then immediately left the area.

The OSCE has teams on the ground in east Ukraine monitoring a nominal ceasefire between government forces and Kremlin-backed rebels that has stopped fighting along much of the frontline but failed to halt bombardments at strategic flashpoints.

Last week, Russia lashed out at the OSCE for alleged bias after monitors reported seeing convoys of unmarked convoys of military hardware heading through rebel-territory to the frontline.

“We get the impression that its efforts are directed at helping and supporting only one side in the conflict, the official authorities in Kiev,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

“Such policies from the mission’s leadership undermine trust in its work.”

The OSCE has also come under criticism in Ukraine for allegedly turning a blind eye to claims that Russia is sending troops across the border into its Western neighbour.

It denies any allegation of bias.

Earlier this year, three separate teams of OSCE observers were abducted and held captive for up to a month by pro-Russian rebels before being released following protracted negotiations.

The latest incident comes as sporadic clashes rumbled in the conflict that has claimed over 4,100 lives since April, according to the United Nations.

A 58-year-old female nurse was killed and one other civilian wounded in shelling close to the rebel-stronghold of Lugansk, the region’s pro-Kiev governor said.

Ukraine’s military said that six soldiers were wounded in the past 24 hours as government positions came under mortar fire over 60 times around the conflict zone.

Rebel authorities in Donetsk said that one separatist fighter was killed and three wounded in clashes over the past day.