5 Ukrainian troops killed in action against separatists as cease-fire deal teeters on brink

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine says five government troops battling separatist forces in the east have been killed in one of the worst single days of bloodshed since a cease-fire was declared in February.

Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Wednesday that four soldiers died when their armored vehicle hit a mine near the front line town of Avdiivka. Another was killed in an ambush at another location, Lysenko said.

Skirmishes have reportedly been increasing in recent weeks along the line of contact between the warring sides. International cease-fire monitors say both parties are violating the peace agreement by deploying heavy weapons near the front line.

More than 6,000 people have died over a year of conflict fueled by an armed insurgency calling for the breakaway of Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian regions.

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