Two civilians killed, monitors shot at in east Ukraine

A woman collects the remnants of her house destroyed as a result of fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants in the outskirts of eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk

KIEV - Ukraine's military said Thursday that two civilians were killed in the latest clashes in east Ukraine, as international monitors observing the fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels reported being fired upon.

A patrol of three monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were shot at by a rocket-propelled grenade and an anti-aircraft gun as they were escorted by the Ukrainian military in the conflict zone Wednesday, the OSCE said in a statement.

The RPG hit some 150 metres from the monitors' vehicle as it passed between two Ukrainian checkpoints close to the town of Shumy, while the anti-aircraft rounds hit two to three metres from the car, the organisation said in a statement released late Wednesday.

"There were no injuries or damage sustained in the attack. The SMM monitors returned safely to their base," the statement said.

The rocket was fired from the south-east, the statement said, but did not specify who was responsible.

The incident comes after the mission - which is monitoring a nominal ceasefire between government forces and Kremlin-backed rebels - said that its observers were "deliberately" shot at for the first time by unidentified uniformed personnel last week.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's military said Thursday that two civilians had been killed and eight wounded by fighting over the past 24 hours.

Government positions around the conflict region came under government shelling 50 times, the military said in a statement.

The casualties are the latest in more than seven months of brutal fighting that has cost the lives of over 4,300 people.