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138 children killed since start of conflict in E. Ukraine: official

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The armed conflict, which has raged in eastern Ukraine for almost four years, has claimed the lives of 138 children, a senior Ukrainian parliament official said on Monday.

"Since the start of the conflict, 138 children were killed. They fell victims to the hostilities and to the landmines explosions," Iryna Gerashchenko, the First Vice Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, told reporters during a briefing in Ukraine's southern city of Odessa.

The government also estimated that the violence in eastern Ukraine has directly affected more than 950,000 children, with more than half of them still residing in the conflict-torn territories.

In April 2014, the Ukrainian government started a military operation against rebel militants, who seized cities and towns in eastern Donbas region and declared independence from Kiev.

The confrontation has snowballed into the violent conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people, including over 2,500 civilians.

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