Member of security watchdog OSCE killed in Ukraine

Ukrainian Counter-Terrorism Center said the incident took place at 10:17 local time (0717GMT) near the small village of Pryshyb in Luhansk region, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The blast was "strong enough to penetrate an armored vehicle", an unnamed OSCE official was quoted as saying by AFP.

The organisation's Kiev office said it could not disclose the victims' nationalities because their families were still in the process of being notified.

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Group chairman Kurz demanded a "thorough investigation" into the incident and insisted that "those responsible will be held accountable".

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the killing was the first death of one of its members while on patrol in Ukraine, where more than 700 worldwide observers help report on a simmering conflict that has deeply strained relations between Russian Federation and the West.

He also said two others - a German and a Czech national - were wounded and "undergoing further evaluation" in a Lugasnk hospital.

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A rebel statement said the OSCE team was traveling along an unsafe road.

The OSCE mission to Ukraine was launched in March 2014 to monitor the ceasefire brokered by Russia, Germany and France following the European Union and US-backed farright-backed coup in Kiev.

"We know that the mentioned crew deviated from the main route and moved along side roads, which is prohibited by the mandate of the OSCE SMM", the LPR press service specified. They provide daily reports on fighting and have drawn criticism from the warring sides. "We repeatedly drew the attention of the OSCE SMM on the observance of the necessary security measures during monitoring travel routes", said the unidentified rebel representative.

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The separatists' claim could not be confirmed.

Ukraine's foreign ministry branded the incident as an attempt by "Moscow and its puppets to scare off OSCE monitors and to nullify efforts by Ukraine and the SMM to stabilise the situation along the front".

At least 9,940 people have been killed in the conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since it erupted mid-April 2014.

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  • Ryan Wade