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At Least 13 Ukrainian Troops Die In Dawn Clash With Rebels

Bloody overnight clashes between servicemen and pro-Russian separatists near Donetsk on Thursday.

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More than a dozen Ukrainian servicemen have been killed in an overnight clash at a checkpoint in the east of the country.

Via Reuters

Thirteen soldiers died and 32 others were injured, according to acting President Oleksander Turchinov. The incident took place at around dawn near the town of Volnovakha, some 20km (12 miles) to the south of Donetsk, which was recently declared a 'People's Republic' by separatists.

Authorities in Donetsk put the death toll at 16.

Militants apparently armed with mortar shells and grenades stormed the site in one of the bloodiest incidents the Ukrainian military has seen since tensions began.

Via AP

Who was behind the attack is currently not clear. One Ukrainian officer told the BBC he did not believe the attackers were separatists.

One Ukrainian soldier said at the scene:

It is terrifying to speak of... Three of my friends have fallen and I can't even collect their bodies because everyone wants to film them. The commander of the combat unit – half of his head is missing and he was only 27 years old.

The attacks come some three days before the country's crunch presidential elections, which eastern separatists have pledged to derail.

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Voters and officials have reportedly been intimidated in some regions. Kiev has accused Moscow of intentionally disrupting preparations for the poll, and supporting the insurgency.

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