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OSCE patrol came under fire in disengagement area

In Zolote, several rounds were fired at SMM monitors.

The OSCE mission observation post in the village of Zolote, where the disengagement of forces was held last week, came under fire, reads a spot report by the special OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine.

"In the morning of 16 October, from several positions in both government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), an SMM patrol composed of five members observed a steady exchange of fire ranging 4-6km east of all positions. The SMM heard over 60 explosions assessed as caused by mortar (82mm and 120mm) rounds, and sporadic bursts of automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-17, 30mm) and heavy-machine-gun fire for over one hour and a half, " the report reads.

At 11:52 from the SMM's position within the perimeter of an observation post of Zolote, the patrol heard whistling past them, less than one second apart, what were assessed to be two heavy-machine-gun bullets, approximately 2m east of the patrol's position.

"The SMM heard the bullets impact, at least one on the concrete observation post structure, but did not see the impacts. After hearing the impacts, the SMM took cover behind the west-facing wall of and inside the observation post structure. SMM vehicles were parked nearby. The patrol members were wearing clearly marked OSCE clothing (helmets and jackets with OSCE logos)," the OSCE report said.

Two Ukrainian Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) also took cover. The SMM patrol members then retreated to their vehicles and at 11:57 left the spot. The SMM could not determine the direction of fire.

The SMM returned safely to its base in government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM is following up the JCCC.

On September 21, the Contact Group has signed a framework document on the disengagement of forces and weapons in three areas of the conflict in Donbass - near Stanytsya Luhansk, Zolote and Petrivske. The pullback was conditioned by the observance of ceasefire at these areas for at least seven days. Theh disengagement envisages the withdrawal of forces from their positions by least two kilometres in both directions.

Only in Zolote, the pullback was held on schedule. On 7 October, the warring parties were disengaged in the area of Petrovske. In Stanytsya Luhanska, the seven-day count of ceasefire has been repeatedly postponed because of shelling.