Ukraine, rebels creates buffer zone amid new casualties

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Ukraine creates weapon-free buffer zone
Kiev, Sept 23:  Ukrainian troops and independence-seeking rebels have started establishing a weapon-free buffer zone to separate the areas they control from each other, the country's military said on Monday.

"A preparation for the withdrawal of heavy weapons is under way," Xinhua quoted Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko as saying.

Although the rebels continue further attacks on government forces, the intensity of their offensive has reduced, the spokesman said. Lysenko said that since Sunday, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and the same number injured in confrontation with the rebels.

He added that the two sides continue the exchange of prisoners of war, saying that the rebels have handed 28 government troops to the Ukrainian forces Sunday.

Around 1,200 Ukrainians, including soldiers and civilians, have been freed so far in exchange for the release of the captured insurgents, Lysenko said.

Under the terms of the deal, reached in the Belarusian capital Minsk Sep 5, Kiev and the rebels agree to continue exchanging prisoners and to move their artillery 15 km away from the frontline to create a 30-km buffer zone.

IANS

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