8 Ukrainian troops killed, 16 hurt in war-torn east Ukraine

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Eight Ukrainian troops were killed and 16 wounded in war-torn eastern Ukraine in a 24-hour period from Tuesday morning until Wednesday morning, officials in Kiev said.

The death toll released by the National Security and Defense Council is the highest in weeks, pointing to intensifying fighting in the area. It includes five Ukrainian servicemen killed by a land mine in the Luhansk region and two troops killed by mortar fire in the same area. The council said the intense fighting also focused around the now-destroyed Donetsk airport.

In Donetsk, the separatist rebel mouthpiece Donetsk News Agency quoted rebel official Eduard Basurin reporting two rebel fighters killed as well as one civilian dead on Tuesday.

An armistice signed in Minsk in February requires both sides to pull back heavy weapons from the front line, but international observers vetting that process regularly note violations.

Ukraine's security council said rebels used large-caliber weapons, which should have been withdrawn in line with the Minsk accords, in the most recent attacks and in previous ones.

The war between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops has claimed more than 6,400 lives since April last year and displaced more than 1.5 million people.