Fragile truce holds in Ukraine's east
A fragile truce between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists appeared to be holding yesterday as both sides made a renewed effort to silence their guns and make the much-abused ceasfire work.
Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll - despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February.
Government and separatist representatives agreed last week to strive to end all violations from Tuesday.
A Kiev military spokesman said the first signs were that parties to the Minsk deal were adhering to the call for a more effective truce to mark the start of a new school year.
"As of 12pm there were no reports of violations by the illegal armed groups - now the situation is calm," the spokesman, Oleksander Motuzyanyk, said.
No soldiers had been killed or wounded in the 24-hour period, he said.
However, two more guardsman have died from wounds sustained in violent protests outside Ukraine's parliament, the national guard said.
A Ukrainian riot police officer was injured after a grenade blast during a clash with protesters outside the parliament in Kiev.
The Minsk agreement, brokered by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, is regarded as the bedrock of international efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine's eastern regions in which 6,500 people have died.