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Four civilians killed in Ukraine ahead of Eurovision

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A Ukranian serviceman walks through a destroyed woods along the front line with pro-Russian separatists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka on April 5, 2017 (AFP Photo/ANATOLII STEPANOV)

A top Ukrainian official said on Saturday that “Russian occupying forces” had killed four civilians in the war-torn east just hours before the Eurovision Song Contest final kicked off in Kiev.

The Kiev-appointed head of the conflict-riven Donetsk region said the civilians died when a shell hit an apartment bloc.

“The Russian occupying forces attacked a residential area of Avdiivka,” Pavlo Zhebrivskiy wrote on Facebook.

“Three women and one man was killed.”

Avdiivka is a devastated flashpoint suburb of the Russian-backed insurgents’ de facto capital city of Donetsk.

The latest casualties bring the number of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who have been reported killed by officials this month to 14.

Ukraine accuses Russia of plotting and backing the three-year eastern conflict in which more than 10,000 have died — a charge Moscow flatly denies.

The war zone lies some 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the east of the capital Kiev where thousands of foreign tourists gathered to watch the annual televised song competition in which 42 nations took part.

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