Ukraine, pro-Kremlin rebels in largest prisoner swap since 2014

2017-12-27 19:45
SA prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

SA prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

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Gorlivka - Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels on Wednesday began to exchange more than 300 prisoners in the war-torn east of the country, the largest such swap since the 2014 outbreak of the insurgency.

The swap between the Kiev army and rebels from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics took place close to the town of Gorlivka, 40km northeast of the rebels' stronghold of Donetsk, an AFP reporter said.

Separatists from Luhansk People's Republic bused 16 captives to the no-man's land on Wednesday while Ukrainian government representatives delivered 99 people.

A simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and government troops has killed more than 10 000 since 2014. A truce signed in 2015 stipulated an exchange of all prisoners but both sides are believed to keep dozens, if not hundreds, captive for use as bargaining tools.

Separatist leaders and a Ukrainian government representative agreed on the prisoner exchange last week with the mediation by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukraine is supposed to release 306 people, and the separatists 74.

Read more on:    ukraine

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