NOVOLUHANSKE, Ukraine – At least three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in action and four were injured on Thursday following clashes with separatists in the country’s east, according to Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation Headquarters.
The ATO’s press center reported that pro-Russian rebels had repeatedly attacked Ukrainian army positions near the village of Novoluhanske – located some 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the east of Kiev in the disputed Donbass region – while an epa photojournalist on the ground captured images of the fighting.
In the striking photographs supplied by epa, Ukrainian servicemen positioned at the front line can be seen firing heavy artillery shells with an M777 155-millimeter field Towed Howitzer at separatist positions.
Ukraine has been locked in a bloody conflict with a pro-Russian separatist insurgency in the eastern oblasts (provinces) of Donetsk and Luhansk since February 2014.
According to the latest United Nations data, more than 10,300 people – including both combatants and civilians – have died in the nearly four years of conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Since fighting erupted, at least 10 ceasefires have been officially declared. The latest one was proclaimed on Dec. 23; according to both parties, it collapsed shortly thereafter due to non-compliance by either side.