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Ukraine Says 9 Soldiers Killed in East in Rebel Fighting

FILE - A Ukrainian serviceman walks through the rubble of a destroyed factory, after fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Avdiivka, Donetsk region, March 31, 2017.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military says nine soldiers died over the past day in the east where Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels have been fighting for more than three years.

Although full-scale offensives in the war have ebbed, both sides report artillery fire or small clashes almost daily. The death toll reported Thursday by military spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko was notably high for a single day.

Lysenko said four of the deaths came in tank and mortar fire near Krasnohorivka, in the Donetsk region. Another was killed in rebel firing in Novohorodske, also in the Donetsk region, he said.

In the Mariupol region long the Azov Sea, one soldier was killed in rebel fire, Lysenko said. Three others were killed by an explosive device there, Lysenko said but did not give details.