Pro-Russian rebels have fired missiles at government troops near the Russian border, killing at least 19 servicemen, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said, adding that four other troops had died elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.
The statement revised an earlier ministry report of 30 troops killed in the pre-dawn attack at a forward operating base in eastern Ukraine.
Defence Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznev gave the figure of 19 on his Facebook account and reported the four other troop deaths. He did not elaborate on the circumstances.
Ukrainian government troops have been fighting for more than three months against separatists in eastern Ukraine. In the last two weeks, they have cut the territory held by the rebels in half and forced them out of their stronghold in the city of Slovyansk.
The rebels have since regrouped in Donetsk, an eastern industrial city, and Ukraine has vowed to cordon the area.
The Defence Ministry said the troops struck in the latest attack had been trying to secure the porous border with Russia, which Ukraine says has been crossed by large numbers of militants transporting armoured vehicles and weapons.
It said 93 soldiers were injured in the clash.
Rockets were fired from a Grad missile launcher around 10 miles away, the ministry said.
The operating base was near one of three border crossings whose closure Russian officials announced yesterday.