Thirteen Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 17 injured when the bus they were travelling in collided with military trucks in bad weather in the war-torn east, officials said on Tuesday.

The collision Monday night was due to bad weather and took place during the rotation of professional soldiers and volunteers deployed in eastern Ukraine to fight the pro-Russian rebels who have waged an insurgency against Kiev since April, the National Guard said in a statement.

The injured soldiers had been taken to a hospital in the town of Artemivsk in the Donetsk region and were set to be evacuated out of the conflict zone, it said.

The soldiers were travelling in a bus that crashed around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the opposition-controlled regional capital of Donetsk, the head of the Ukrainian police force in the region, Vyacheslav Abroskin wrote on Facebook.

He said the accident was due to “complex weather conditions: black ice and poor visibility.”

The prosecutor general’s office said it was checking whether the “tragic incident” was caused by driver error.

More than 4,700 people have died in the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is due to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Germany and France for peace talks in Kazakhstan on January 15.

Source: AFP

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