World

Fighting in Ukraine persists in day before cease-fire is to take effect

  • Ukrainian military vehicles travel on the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Ukrainian military vehicles travel on the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • Electrical wires are seen near the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Electrical wires are seen near the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ukrainian government soldiers carry a box of ammunition near the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Ukrainian government soldiers carry a box of ammunition near the road between the towns of Dabeltseve and Artemivsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. Much of the fighting had taken place near Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (The Associated Press)

Officials in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol say an array of artillery attacks hit areas near the city during the morning, as the deadline for a cease-fire creeps closer.

The city's press service reported a half-dozen rocket and mortar attacks on outlying areas Saturday morning. There was no immediate information on casualties.

Mariupol is on the Azov Sea and concerns are strong that Russian-backed separatists aim to seize it as a step toward establishing a corridor between mainland Russia and the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed 11 months ago.

Under an agreement reached this week, rebels and Ukrainian forces are to observe a cease-fire beginning at midnight (2200 GMT, 5 p.m. EST).