DONETSK, Ukraine – Fighting has picked up in eastern Ukraine, after more than a month of relative calm, as diplomats gather in Berlin to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
The military conflict between Russia-backed rebels and government forces has killed more than 6,000 but has largely subsided since the cease-fire was announced in February and at least some heavy weaponry withdrawn.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Sunday that they heard intense mortar fire outside the village of Shyrokyne for about three hours as well as machine-gun engagement.
Mortar fire was also heard at night and in the morning on Monday in central Donetsk.
Heavy fighting was also reported at the destroyed Donetsk airport where journalists have not been allowed since Sunday because of the security situation.
Foreign policy chiefs from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are meeting to discuss the crisis in Ukraine later on Monday.
In an indication that hostilities are picking up in the region, the rebel Donetsk News Agency reported on Monday that the number of injured fighters tripled on the weekend compared with previous weeks.