KIEV – At least 18 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and 54 injured in fresh fighting with separatist rebels, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.
The spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said government forces had clashed with separatists 25 times in parts of eastern Ukraine near the Russian border in the 24 hours up to on Wednesday morning as they continued to squeeze rebel positions.
Ukrainian forces, he said, had again been shelled from inside Russian territory while Ukrainian frontier guards near the border town of Luhansk had come under a four-hour mortar and artillery attack.
"In the past 24 hours 18 service personnel have been killed in battle and 54 have been wounded," he told journalists, saying casualties had been sustained in several different incidents in the east.
Government troops have been battling the rebels since April in the Russian-speaking east in a conflict which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says has cost the lives of more than 1,100 people, including government forces, rebels and civilians.
The new overnight deaths among government forces suggest that Kiev military losses now total around 400.