" The exact number of casualties in the neighbouring Lugansk region is still unclear."
Kiev, Aug 20 - At least 43 people, including 34 civilians, were killed in fresh clashes in eastern Ukraine over the last 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday.

Nine government troopers were killed and 12 others wounded in fights with independence-seeking insurgents during an operation to encircle the rebel strongholds in Lugansk and Donetsk regions, said Andrei Lysenko, spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC).

Most of the casualties were caused by the fighting that erupted near Ilovaysk town, which lies on the highway, connecting the two centres of rebel activity -- the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.

According to the NSDC, insurgents deployed tanks and heavy artillery during the fighting, Xinhua reported. As of Wednesday morning, government troops have claimed to have taken control of Ilovaysk.

Meanwhile, at least 34 civilians were killed and 29 others wounded during battles in other cities and towns across Donetsk region over the past one day, said the press service of the Donetsk city council.

In total, at least 951 people have been killed in Donetsk region since violence began, it added.

The exact number of casualties in the neighbouring Lugansk region is still unclear.

The conflict, which erupted in eastern Ukraine in mid-April, claimed the lives of over 2,000 people and injured thousands of others, according to observers.


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