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Kiev says five soldiers killed in fighting with pro-Russia forces

Ukraine has claimed that five of its soldiers have been killed in fighting with pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military said in a statement on Thursday that its forces had suffered the losses during an eight-hour clash with pro-Russia forces near the small village of Krymske, 30 kilometers west of Luhansk.

Pro-Russia forces and Ukrainian troops have been involved in an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014, when Kiev launched a crackdown on peaceful pro-Russia protests there.

Repeated international efforts to resolve the dispute in the Russian-speaking region have failed. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the allegation.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of divisions among the pro-Russia forces in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic.

Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the pro-Russia forces in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, speaks during a press conference in Luhansk, on November 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Luhansk’s leader, Igor Plotnitsky, earlier this week dismissed the interior minister, Igor Kornet.

Kornet, however, refused to step down from his post. He was later accused by Plotnitsky of launching a coup against him.

Kornet’s men, on Wednesday, arrested a top local prosecutor loyal to Plotnitsky, along with several of his deputies.

Plotnitsky has not been seen in public lately.

The headquarters of the local television, which is headed by a relative of Plotnitsky, has been surrounded by armed men, as well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said the Kremlin is aware of the escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine. He did not elaborate.

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