OSCE official denies monitors caught up in battle-stricken Shyrokyne

A senior Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitor has denied allegations that an OSCE team of monitors came under Ukrainian fire in Shyrokyne on Saturday.

Alexander Hug, deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, told Interfax by phone that exchanges of fire in Shyrokyne between Ukrainian and militia forces began when the OSCE monitors were in the village, which lies about 20 kilometers east of Mariupol. This forced the monitors to leave Shyrokyne, Hug said.

Earlier, the Donetsk News Agency of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, citing an informed source, said: "Around 15:00 hours local time today, the Azov Battalion opened fire on DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] positions in the vicinity of the [village] of Shyrokyne, where OSCE personnel conduct round-the-clock monitoring, As a result, it was not only militiamen but also OSCE officers who came under fire."

The agency said there were no confirmed casualty reports.

Azov said on Saturday evening that there was currently a battle in progress in Shyrokyne between Ukrainian and militia forces and that it had been going on for more than four hours.

"The terrorists, using automatic mounted grenade launchers, 120-millimeter mortars, heavy machineguns and small arms, have attacked the positions of the Azov Regiment," Azov said in the VKontakte social network.

It said two of its soldiers had been wounded and a minimum of two "terrorists" had been killed.

"The OSCE mission left Shyrokyne as soon as the terrorists opened fire on our positions," it said.

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