Ukrainian troops, rebels create buffer zone

Updated: 2014-09-23 10:23


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Ukrainian troops, rebels create buffer zone 

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KIEV-- Ukrainian troops and independence-seeking insurgents have started establishing a weapon-free buffer zone to separate the areas they control from each other, a government military spokesman said Monday.

"A preparation for the withdrawal of heavy weapons is underway, " Andrei Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told a news briefing.

Although the rebels continue further attacks on government forces, the intensity of their offensive has reduced, he said. Lysenko said that over the past 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and the same number injured in confrontation with insurgents.

He added that the two sides continue the exchange of prisoners of war, saying that the rebels have handed 28 government troops to the Ukrainian forces over the past day.

Around 1,200 Ukrainians, including soldiers and civilians, have been freed so far in exchange for the release of the captured insurgents, Lysenko said.

Under the terms of the deal, reached in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on Saturday, Kiev and the rebels agree to continue exchanging prisoners and to move their artillery 15 km away from the frontline to create a 30-km buffer zone.

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