Two killed after minibus hits landmine near east Ukraine's Donetsk

YELENOVKA, Ukraine (Reuters) - A minibus hit a landmine while crossing the border between Ukraine and the breakaway Donetsk region on Saturday, killing two civilians and injuring a third, local authorities and witnesses said.

The bus, carrying three people, hit the mine after swerving off road in the buffer zone between two border posts, a statement on the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic official website read.

The driver was killed along with one passenger. The other passenger, a 61-year-old man, was being treated in hospital. He told a Reuters journalist that the passenger who was killed was his mother.

The incident occurred near the village of Yelenovka, outside Donetsk. The passengers were returning to the rebel-controlled region after collecting their pensions, the statement said.

Fighting broke out in 2014 between separatist forces in eastern Ukraine backed by Moscow and forces loyal to the pro-Western Ukrainian government in Kiev. Despite an internationally brokered ceasefire that ended major fighting in 2015, deadly flare-ups of fighting occur regularly.

The unresolved conflict will be an issue when Ukraine holds a presidential election in late March.

(Reporting by Alexander Ermochenko; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Peter Graff)

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