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MOSCOW, September 24. /TASS/. Ukrainian government forces have violated the current ceasefire in the country’s east three times over the last 24 hours, but the situation in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic remains relatively calm, local defense ministry officials said on Thursday.
"Three ceasefire violations by the Ukrainian armed forces have been registered over the past 24 hours," the Donetsk republic’s Defense Ministry said, according to a Donetsk News Agency report.
Shelling has been recorded in the settlement of Staromikhailovka in Donetsk’s Kirovsk district and the settlements of Zaytsevo and Zhabichevo in the Petrovsk district, the ministry said.
Various weapons are said to have been used by Kiev forces to shell the region, including anti-aircraft installations, infantry fighting vehicles and small weapons.
Local administration officials said earlier in the day that no shelling by Ukrainian forces had been registered between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk agreed at talks in Minsk, Belarus, on August 26 to end shelling from September 1, the day the new school year was to begin. The ceasefire has been generally observed since then.
There has been only one crude violation of the truce when late at night on September 4, the village of Aleksandrovka, in the Petrovsk district of Donetsk, came under shelling which killed one civilian and injured two others.
Comprehensive ceasefires have been declared twice over the past year, but sporadic clashes between the two forces continued. Both sides have blamed the other for the violations.
A February 12 peace deal struck in Minsk, Belarus, by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and people’s militias starting from February 15.
This was to be followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons over 100mm calibre from the line of military engagement by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace protocol, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.
On July 18, the Donetsk and Luhansk republics announced their plans to unilaterally withdraw tanks and armoured vehicles with a calibre of less than 100mm to a distance of at least three kilometres away from the line of military engagement.
The Donetsk republic said at the end of July it had pulled back weapons under 100mm calibre from the contact line, leaving tanks only in "hot spots" to the north of Donetsk and in Debaltsevo. The Luhansk republic said it had also completed the withdrawal of weapons from the contact line, leaving tanks and armoured vehicles only on positions near the Schastye settlement.
The republics’ self-defence forces also expressed their readiness to pull back weapons from "hot spots" if Kiev took a similar action.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 6,800 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began and the death toll continues to rise.
The UN office said in its last month’s report that overall, more than 2.3 million Ukrainians, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and those who sought refuge abroad, had been uprooted by the conflict since April 2014.