Three Ukrainian servicemen were killed and seven others wounded in fighting with pro-Russian rebels in the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military reported on Tuesday, marking the highest daily casualty toll since mid-November.
A year-old ceasefire has not be successful to stop violence in Ukraine’s eastern territories, and international monitors expressed concern over intensified shelling in recent weeks.
"Yesterday the situation on the front line escalated. In general, every third enemy attack is from a heavy weapon or mortar banned under the Minsk [ceasefire] agreement," military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said in a daily televised briefing.
Motuzyanyk said that the fiercest fighting had occurred on front line near the village of Zaitseve, nearly 30 miles (48 km) north of the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk.
Military data indicated that the casualties reported by Motuzyanyk were the highest losses for the Ukrainian army since five servicemen were killed on Nov. 14.
The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the implementation of the ceasefire, said this month that he was deeply concerned about signs the conflict was escalating despite the peace agreement.
Pro-Russian rebels accuse Ukrainian government troops of breaching the ceasefire on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, the rebel officials said that shelling from the Ukrainian government side had destroyed Zaitseve as well as western suburbs of Donetsk.
More than 9,000 soldiers and civilians have been killed since the conflict started in April 2014, when pro-Russian rebels rose up after Moscow’s capture of Ukraine’s Crimea region, following the ousting of Kiev’s pro-Russian president by mass protests.