Ukraine: 3 soldiers killed, 7 wounded in uptick in fighting

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The Ukrainian government says three of its servicemen have been killed and seven others wounded in the past 24 hours in clashes with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Interfax news agency said presidential administration spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported the sharp uptick in fighting at a briefing in Kiev on Tuesday.

He accused the rebels of violating the cease-fire 79 times, often firing heavy weapons that were supposed to have been withdrawn under the cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk a year ago.

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — members of the so-called Contact Group working to implement the agreement — will meet Wednesday in Belarus.

More than 9,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in April 2014.