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Ukraine Reports Escalation Of Attacks On Eve Of Presidential Vote

The Ukrainian military said the situation in the region had "escalated significantly" over the past 24 hours.

One Ukrainian soldier was killed and four wounded in what the Ukrainian military has called an escalation of attacks by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, one day before the country votes in the first round of its presidential election.

In a statement on March 30, the Ukrainian military said the situation in the region had "escalated significantly" over the past 24 hours, accusing the rebels of utilizing heavy weapons banned under the Minsk peace agreements.

The Ukrainian military said its forces had killed four separatist fighters and wounded six more.

Since April 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in fighting between Kyiv's forces and the Russia-backed separatists who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict -- have contributed to a decrease in fighting but have failed to hold.

In Ukraine's presidential election, thirty-nine candidates are vying for the post, but only three are given a realistic chance of winning: the incumbent Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has been the surprise of the campaign, leading in all opinion polls.

Zelenskiy, who stars in a TV comedy series about a teacher who becomes president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral, has tapped into public frustration in Ukraine over the pace of reforms and fighting corruption.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will face off on April 21.

Based on reporting by AFP and UNIAN