5 troops reported killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — At least five Ukrainian troops have been killed in an apparent uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine, government officials said on Monday.

An armed conflict between government troops and separatist rebels has killed more than 9,600 since it began in 2014, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. A January cease-fire had until recently helped to limit the fighting to sporadic shoot-outs.

The government’s press office for the operation in the east said on Monday it recorded an increase in fighting on several fronts on Sunday which left at least five killed and nine troops injured. Kiev accused the rebels of using Grad multiple grenade launchers and said they recorded intensified fighting all along the front line — outside the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, in the south of the front-line north of Mariupol and west of Luhansk.

In Donetsk, self-proclaimed separatist authorities reported substantial damage to civilian infrastructure, with several villages and Donetsk neighborhoods left without electricity and gas supply. The separatist Donetsk News Agency reported one civilian killed and three injured in Makiivka, north-east of Donetsk. The rebels also reported that government forces opened fire on a check-point to the north of Donetsk where thousands of civilians pass through every day between rebel-held and government-controlled territories.