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Three killed as passenger bus hits mine in east Ukraine

10 February 2016, 14:13

Kiev - Three civilians were killed on Wednesday when a passenger minibus hit a landmine in eastern Ukraine amid a relative lull in the country's ongoing conflict, authorities in Kiev said.

"Two civilians died at the scene and one more passed away in the ambulance car on the way to a hospital", military spokesman Andriy Zadubinnyi told AFP.

Two more passengers were wounded and received first aid on the spot, he added.

The explosion occurred on Wednesday near the village of Novomykhailivka, some 25 kilometres southwest of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk when a minibus carrying five passengers was leaving rebel-controlled territory.

The bus driver ignored mine warning signs and drove out onto a field, where the vehicle hit a landmine just a few hundred metres away from a Ukrainian checkpoint.

"According to preliminary information, the bus was trying to overtake a queue of vehicles", said Zadubinnyi.

More than 9,000 people have been killed and 20,000 injured in eastern Ukraine since April 2014, according to the United Nations.

Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting the separatist insurgency and sending regular troops across the border, claims that Moscow has repeatedly denied.

A series of truce agreements have helped to significantly reduce the fighting, although sporadic clashes continue on the frontline and Kiev's forces and civilians are in constant danger from landmines.

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