MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. Sappers in the eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltsevo continue clearing the territory of mines left by Ukrainian soldiers after fierce battles in January and February, the town's mayor said on Wednesday.
From 60 to 80 mines are removed from the area daily, Alexander Afendiktov told the Donetsk news agency. In the first month after the fighting between people’s militia and Ukrainian soldiers ended, some four clearance teams worked every day to remove from 160 to 180 mines a day, he noted.
"This number is certainly much smaller today. The city center has been cleared, and now more time is spent for moving from one location to another," Afendiktov said.
The mayor added that Ukrainian forces had left stockpiles of mines along the rail line, inside electrical substations and civilian buildings.
In late January, Ukrainian troops were trapped by militiamen of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic during a standoff in Debaltsevo, a town around a strategic railway hub linking the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered the troops to withdraw from the so-called Debaltsevo entrapment only on February 17.
Poroshenko later said 2,475 Ukrainian troops were pulled out, and only 6 were killed and another 100 were wounded. According to DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko, between 3,000 and 3,500 Ukrainian forces were killed in the Debaltsevo trap.
Debaltsevo has been under control of the Donetsk republic since February 18. According to local defence officials, during the retreat the Ukrainian forces mined all the key facilities of the city. Some local communication lines were blown up. A large part of socially significant facilities were destroyed.
In late February, monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) visited Debaltsevo and confirmed that the town was affected by a humanitarian crisis.
The Donetsk republic’s authorities said restoring Debaltsevo was one of the most immediate tasks at present.