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Rebels pledge prisoner exchange as Ukraine ceasefire teeters

Rebels pledge prisoner exchange as Ukraine ceasefire teeters
A rebel official for human rights, Daria Morozova, said an initial exchange of prisoners with the Ukrainian side would take place tomorrow, the Interfax news agency reported. There was no immediate confirmation from Kiev, but such a swap was agreed by both sides as part of the truce forged last week in the Belarus capital Minsk under European mediation. That UN-backed truce, though, has been left in tatters by repeated violations since it came into effect last Sunday, with each
side regularly accusing the other of ceasefire breaches.

The worst transgression was a rebel assault on Debaltseve, a strategic transport hub linking the insurgents’ two strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk, from where 2,500 government soldiers fled on Wednesday and scores of others were taken prisoner.

Kiev said 13 troops were killed in the withdrawal. But the rebels, now in control of the town, said they found the bodies of 57 soldiers - as well as many abandoned weapons, including 28 tanks.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whose government is being criticised for incompetence over the rout, accused Russia of ordering the Debaltseve offensive and called for international peacekeepers to be deployed.
Agencies

Agencies

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