Separatist insurgents staged assaults on Ukrainian villages on Monday, reports Reuters. State officials say the attacks featured the heaviest shelling in the region since February.
The Ukrainian military reported that their troops repelled tanks and around 200 rebel soldiers at the village of Novolaspa and a “battalion”-strength force with tanks and armored vehicles in nearby Starohnativka. Both locations are about 30 miles south of Donetsk, which the separatists declared as their capital early last year.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the situation “a dangerous indication” of imminent conflict, AFP said. The attacks are the latest in recent allegations that separatist forces have breached the truce signed in Minsk in February.
On Sunday, four tanks belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were set ablaze in Donetsk. Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk attributed the act to “unlawful armed groups.”
The insurgents have denied attacking Ukrainian troops and framed the country’s military as the aggressors, claiming Kiev is eager to reclaim the territories that declared their autonomy last April.
Over 6,500 people have been killed since the conflict between Ukrainian forces and separatists in the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk escalated in early 2014. The conflict has also strained the West’s relations with Moscow, which many accuse of backing the rebel forces.