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KIEV, Ukraine – A Ukrainian official says nine troops were killed in overnight fighting in the streets of the town of Ilovaysk, which lies just east of the rebel stronghold Donetsk.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning that government troops now control half of the town, but rebels are offering fierce resistance after more than a day of fighting.
Government efforts to quell the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine are focused on encircling Donetsk and also driving rebels out of the city of Luhansk.
The Kiev government also has pursued diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced 300,000.
The Ukrainian president hosts the German chancellor this weekend before meeting next week with Russia's president.