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Ukrainian photojournalist killed in shelling in eastern Ukraine

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ARTEMIVSK, Ukraine — A Ukrainian photojournalist was killed in shelling in eastern Ukraine on Saturday as the cease-fire deal brokered by Western leaders seems to fail to silence the guns completely.

Fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 5,600 people, displaced more than 1 million others and left the country's industrial heartland in ruins.

Despite the cease-fire declared earlier this month, fighting regularly erupts across the region.

Serhiy Nikolayev, a staff photographer for the Segodnya newspaper, was killed Saturday in the village of Pisky on the Ukrainian side of the front, according to Kateryna Perepelitsa, an editor at the paper.

PHOTO: Fuel pumps are covered in sandbags in order to be protect them from possible shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015.  The recent pullback of some weapons from the line separating government and rebel forces in Ukraine seems to have boosted the prospects for peace, although both sides are warning of their readiness to resume fighting if necessary. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Fuel pumps are covered in sandbags in order to be protect them from possible shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The recent pullback of some weapons from the line separating government and rebel forces in Ukraine seems to have boosted the prospects for peace, although both sides are warning of their readiness to resume fighting if necessary. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Perepelitsa told The Associated Press that Nikolayev was injured in an artillery strike, was taken to the hospital in Krasnoarmiysk, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) west, and died of his wounds on arrival.

Nikolayev, who was based in the capital, Kiev, is the seventh journalist to have been killed in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began in April.

The newspaper's editor insisted, however, that Nikolayev wasn't there on assignment, but refused to elaborate. Few Ukrainian media officially send their staffers to the east on assignment, with many going to the region on their own to operate as freelancers for their employers or other media.

Pisky is just north of the airport in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. Artillery strikes in the area have been reported in recent days although they have subsided since the airport fell to the rebels in late January.

The situation across the region otherwise appeared calm. The city hall in Donetsk reported no fighting on Saturday or on Friday, while sporadic shelling was heard in the background in the town of Popasna on Saturday afternoon.

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