New violence in eastern Ukraine

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One day after all eyes in Europe were aimed at Kiev, which hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, new violence in eastern Ukraine has reportedly left new casualties, as the unresolved conflict in the region enters its fourth year.

Shelling was carried out on Saturday despite an internationally mediated ceasefire agreement that was signed in February 2015 between Kiev and the pro-Russia forces seeking greater regional autonomy.

Both sides blame the other party for violating the ceasefire.

The head of the Kiev-controlled Donetsk regional administration, Pavlo Zhebrivsky, claimed that pro-Russia forces had shelled the town of Avdiyivka late on Saturday, killing four people.

“A shell hit the courtyard of a private house. Three women and one man perished,” Zhebrivsky wrote on social media. He added that a fifth person, a man, had sustained serious wounds in the attack.

On the opposite side, a news agency linked to the pro-Russia forces said two civilians had been wounded in a shelling attack by the Ukrainian forces.

Last month, a paramedic worker with the European observers’ force monitoring the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others were injured when their vehicle hit a landmine in a conflict zone.

The Kiev government deployed troops and started cracking down on pro-Russia protests in the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country in April 2014.

The deployment of military troops followed an uprising in the country that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russia president. In March 2014, people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation. Kiev, which had not authorized the referendum, and its Western backers have described Crimea’s unification with Russia as “territorial annexation” by Moscow.

The US and its European allies also accuse Russia of instigating the violence in eastern Ukraine, a region collectively known as the Donbass. Moscow rejects that accusation.

About 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict.