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Seven Ukrainian Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Pro-Russian Separatists

Seven Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in clashes with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east during the past 24 hours, the Reuters news agency reported Tuesday.

The escalating violence makes July the deadliest month for the country’s military in the past year, Reuters noted. Despite an 18-month-old cease-fire agreement, violent clashes have escalated, in this case wounding another 14.

The Ukrainian military reported that its soldiers were gunned down when separatists fired high-caliber mortars, which reportedly opened fire 78 times. Separatist officials maintain that the Ukrainian military has increased shelling on their territory.

International monitors, including the head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, have expressed concerns about the recent surge in violence.

More than 9,400 people have been killed in clashes since April 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claims that the Ukrainian side has fulfilled its obligations under the Minsk agreement, but Russian authorities have claimed that Ukraine is violating the cease-fire through “provocations.”

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