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5 Ukrainian troops killed as fighting continues for key eastern railway hub

  • A Ukrainian army vehicle drives through fields near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    A Ukrainian army vehicle drives through fields near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Ukrainian soldier guards a check point near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    A Ukrainian soldier guards a check point near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Ukrainian soldier guards a check point near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    A Ukrainian soldier guards a check point near the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces for control over a key railway hub in the eastern Ukraine town of Debaltseve, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said Monday that he plans to mobilize enough new volunteers to bring his forces to 100,000 men. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

Officials say five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 29 wounded in the past day in eastern Ukraine as fighting rages around a strategic railway hub.

Defense Ministry Spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov told The Associated Press Monday that fighting remains most intense around Ukraine-held Debaltseve, which is now almost entirely encircled by Russia-backed rebels.

Municipal authorities in Donetsk, the main rebel stronghold in the region some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Debaltseve, said in a statement posted online that 15 civilians were killed by shelling over the weekend. Explosions could still be heard throughout the city on Monday morning.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 5,100 lives since April. Despite a September cease-fire and a period of relative calm in December, fighting has intensified in recent weeks.