Ukraine conflict: Four civilians killed in army shelling, say rebels

Scene of attack in Olenivka, east Ukraine, on 27 April 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The attack happened in the village of Olenivka

At least four civilians - including a pregnant woman - have been killed in shelling at a checkpoint crossing in east Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels say.

A spokesman for the so-called Donetsk People's Republic said 15 people were also wounded, as they crossed between rebel- and government-held territory.

Ukraine's army denied it carried out any shelling in the area at the time.

The region has seen a spike in violence in recent weeks, threatening a fragile ceasefire between the army and rebels.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said it had been recording "a high number of ceasefire violations" in the Donetsk region alone, listing hundreds of explosions and gunfire heard in both rebel- and government-held areas in recent days.

Wednesday's attack happened in the rebel-controlled village of Olenivka, just metres from a demarcation line separating the two sides.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said the body of the pregnant woman could be seen in the back of a badly damaged car, her mobile phone ringing constantly.

Another body could be seen in the front seat of another car, and two other bodies lay in the road.

The rebel group said at least six homes and a hospital were also damaged in the village as a result of army strikes overnight.

However, a spokesman for Ukraine's military said its army positions had been fired upon by light weapons, but there was no shelling in the area at the time.

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Almost 9,200 people have died since conflict broke out in April 2014.

Pro-Russian rebels control large swathes of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Western leaders and Nato accuse Russia of helping the rebels with heavy weapons and regular troops - something Moscow has repeatedly denied.

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