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3 Ukrainian Troops Killed in Fighting with Pro-Russian Rebels

FILE - Ukrainian military servicemen hold their position outside Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine, April 16, 2016.

Three Ukraine troops were killed and six wounded in recent fighting with pro-Russian separatist in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.

The Ukrainian presidential envoy for the operation in the east, Olexander Motuzyanyk, says during the past 24 hours, separatists have shelled government positions along the 30-kilometer buffer zone separating the two sides forces.

In comments carried by the French news agency, Motuzyanyk said the rebels "launched more than 500 mortar and over 300 artillery shells" at Ukrainian positions.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko warned they have not ruled out martial law or a new wave of military mobilization if the fighting continues.

"If the situation escalates in the east and in Crimea we don't rule out the possibilities (that) we will be forced to introduce martial law and announce a (further) mobilization," he said in a televised speech.

Last week, Russia accused Ukrainian military and intelligence forces of plotting attacks in the annexed region of Crimea.

Ukraine officials have denied the accusations saying the Kremlin was likely to use it as a pretext for a major escalation of the two-year-long conflict in eastern Ukraine.