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Separatists In Eastern Ukraine Say Top Commander Killed In Car Bombing

The deputy chief of the OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission for Ukraine, Alexander Hug, visits the town of Avdiyivka, scene of some of the heaviest fighting in recent days, on February 3.

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say one of their top commanders was killed when his car exploded early on February 4.

The separatists' Luhansk Information Center said Oleg Anashchenko and a second unidentified person were killed in the explosion in Luhansk city. It accused Ukrainian special services of causing the explosion, saying "it was a plotted and targeted car bombing."

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said on February 4 that three of its soldiers were killed and seven others wounded in the past day amid escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine.

More than 30 people, including civilians, have been killed and several dozens injured in fighting between pro-Kyiv forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine this week, with both sides blaming each other for the upsurge of violence.

UN, EU, and other international officials have issued urgent pleas for negotiations to avoid a "catastrophe."

According to UN figures, more than 9,800 people have been killed in the conflict since it began in April 2014.

Based on reporting by Interfax, AP, and