Twelve people, including seven civilians, killed in east Ukraine

SHAFAQNA – Twelve people, including seven civilians, were killed in the past 24 hours in clashes between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, officials said Friday.The city administration of the rebel stronghold Donetsk said 23 people were also wounded in shelling across the industrial province. The Kiev military said 23 soldiers were injured in the fighting, which has claimed 5,100 lives over nine months.

The latest clashes have been focused around the government-held town of Debaltseve, which is an important rail junction connecting the two regional centres of the separatist provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.

The pro-Kiev head of the Donetsk interior ministry forces said government troops were still in control of the town of 25,000 on Friday morning.

But Donetsk separatist co-leader Andrei Purgin told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the Ukrainian forces were “surrounded” and unable to receive new supplies or send their wounded for treatment in regional hospitals.

Purgin also offered to open a “humanitarian corridor” for Ukrainian troops who give up their arms.

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