Kiev celebrates Ukrainian Independence Day amid fighting in the east

Thousands of servicemen have marched in downtown Kiev to mark Ukraine's Independence Day.

The troops carried rifles but, unlike last year, the parade did not feature any of the more powerful weaponry which could be viewed as sensitive as Ukraine is mired in a conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

The conflict in the east, which has claimed more than 6,800 lives since it began in April 2014, saw a major uptick in violence last week with nine civilians and soldiers killed in just one day.

Speaking at the parade, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine would continue to increase its troop numbers in order to fend off the attacks of separatist rebels.