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Urban warfare as Ukraine forces move in on rebel strongholds

Urban warfare as Ukraine forces move in on rebel strongholds
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The conflict in eastern Ukraine has reached the centre of rebel-held Luhansk, where government forces say they have now recaptured one neighbourhood.

Artillery fire has also been heard in the settlement of Makiivka on the outskirts of the other pro-Russian separatist stronghold Donetsk, and shelling has been reported near rebel headquarters in the city itself.

For civilians, the misery continues, with a choice of either seeking safety in shelters or fleeing the battle zones, risking their lives.

Seventeen bodies of people trying to leave Luhansk have been recovered from the wreckage of a refugee convoy hit by shelling on Monday, according to a military spokesman.

Separatists deny Ukraine’s claims that they were responsible.

“By the end of last night we had found the first 15 bodies,” said Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council.

“Now, clashes between the terrorists and anti-terrorist forces have started in this region so the search for dead civilians could not be completed.”

On the diplomatic front, Ukraine’s President Petro Petroshenko will host Germany’s Angela Merkel in Kyiv on Saturday.

Next week he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time in months to try to end their confrontation over the separatist rebellion.