5 more Ukrainian soldiers have been killed as a bloody surge in fighting continues

Avdiivka UkraineDaniel Brown/Business InsiderA Ukrainian soldier in trenches outside of Avdiivka near Russian-backed separatist positions in early April 2017.

Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eight more were wounded Thursday night and Friday morning in eastern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.

One soldier was killed and another was wounded on Thursday night near the Butovka coal mine, and three soldiers were killed and seven were wounded early Friday near Krasnohorivka, according to the Kyiv Post.

The fifth soldier was shot and killed by a sniper near Novhorodske.

In the last three days, at least 15 soldiers have been killed and 24 have been wounded, making it the bloodiest stretch of fighting in the Donbas in 2017, the Kyiv Post said.

The war in eastern Ukraine started in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and pro-Russian Ukrainians, funded and managed by Moscow, proclaimed sections of the Donbas and Luhansk regions to be independent states known as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Nine Ukrainian soldiers were also killed, 10 were wounded, and one was captured earlier this week. Three of them were killed in an attack that included 120 mm mortars and four tanks early Thursday morning near Krasnohorivka, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said.

During the shelling, a Russian-backed separatist unit called the “Oplot” Battalion — a commando unit of about 10 to 15 rebels — manoeuvred toward Ukrainian lines but were attacked by government forces, the Kyiv Post and Defence Ministry said.

Avdiivka UkraineDaniel Brown/Business InsiderUkrainian soldiers dig a foxhole outside of Avdiivka in early April 2017.

Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the first 15 minutes, the Kyiv Post said, before government forces fell back “to an intermediate position to minimise losses,” the Defence Ministry said. A third was killed during the retreat, and another was captured after getting “dazed by shellfire,” the Kyiv Post said.

Six Russian-backed separatists were also killed during the fight, the Defence Ministry said.

At least 10,090 people — including 2,777 civilians — have been killed, and nearly 24,000 have been wounded, through May 15, according to the UN. More than 1.6 million people have been internally displaced.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has also recorded a 20% increase in fighting since the G20 summit.

At least 25 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 43 more have been wounded thus far in July, according to Liveuamap.

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