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1 Ukraine Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded by Rebel Fire

FILE - A Ukrainian government soldier looks toward pro-Russia rebel positions near Avdiivka, outside Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 24, 2015.

One Ukrainian soldier has been killed and two injured by rebel fire in violation of a cease-fire deal between Ukraine’s government and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

In a televised statement Wednesday, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman, Leonid Matyukhin, announced the casualties south of Avdiivka, near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. It was the first government fatality since the warring sides agreed to a cease-fire on September 1 for extending a pull-back of weapons.

"The night in the anti-terrorist operation zone was quiet,” Matyukhin said, using a term Ukraine’s government often applies to the separatists. “However, in the evening the bandits did not limit themselves to their usual provocations and opened fire with under-barrel grenade launchers and automatic grenade launchers against our servicemen south of Avdiivka. There is one killed and two wounded among our servicemen."

The truce has largely held and most of casualties in the past weeks resulted from soldiers stepping on land mines.

According to U.N. estimates, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine has left more than 8,000 people dead since mid-April 2014.

Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of direct involvement in the conflict. Moscow has repeatedly denied the charge.