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Ukraine: Shells explode near the Ukrainian Interior Minister at the front

Ukraine: Shells explode near the Ukrainian Interior Minister at the front

Mortars exploded near Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denis Monastirsky during his trip to the front line in the east of the country, AFP journalists reported Saturday.

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The incident, which left no one injured, occurred near the village of Novologansk, on the front line with Russian-backed separatists, visited by several Ukrainian officials amid unprecedented tensions with Moscow.

The shells exploded when Mr. Monastirsky left the trenches separating Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, after giving interviews to international media.

Journalists and officials left the area soon after.

The Ukrainian military reported that two soldiers were killed and four others wounded in shelling on Saturday. At least one of them, a 35-year-old captain and father of three, was killed near Novologansk early in the morning.

The military and Moscow-backed separatists accuse each other of escalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 14,000 people since 2014.

The separatists, who partially control the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, say Kiev is planning to invade them. They launched an evacuation of the population and declared a general mobilization.

Ukraine rejects these accusations and calls for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The West accuses Moscow of looking for a pretext to invade its Ukrainian neighbor after Russia massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

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