Bus crash kills 12 Ukrainian servicemen and injures 21 on snowy road in conflict zone

A bus carrying Ukrainian servicemen collided with two heavy trucks on a snowy road, killing 12 of them and injuring 21, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The accident occurred late Monday in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are fighting Russia-backed separatists. The troops killed in the crash were members of the National Guard, the ministry said.

Footage of the crash site broadcast on the Internet television channel Hromadske showed what was left of the bus lying in the snow along the side of a narrow two-lane road.

Other Ukrainian soldiers took up duties Tuesday at the Donetsk Airport, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in eastern Ukraine. The 50 soldiers in a convoy of four trucks were provided safe passage to the airport by rebel forces, who gave them gifts in celebration of Orthodox Christmas.

As part of a troop rotation, the same trucks returned carrying 49 Ukrainian soldiers, since one had been killed in battle a few days earlier.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has continued despite a cease-fire reached in September as the two sides have failed to agree on a line of division to create a buffer zone. More than 4,700 people have been killed since April.