Armed man 'sexually harassed' female monitor in rebel Ukraine: OSCE

Pro-Russian separatist forces rehearse for a parade in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine (AFP Photo/Alexey FILIPPOV)

Kiev (AFP) - A female member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission monitoring the conflict in eastern Ukraine was "sexually harassed" by an armed man in rebel territory, the group confirmed Sunday.

The OSCE has already limited its patrols in parts of the war-torn east since it sustained its first fatality of the three-year conflict when an American medic was killed in an apparent mine blast last month in the insurgent-controlled area.

A spokeswoman for the organisation confirmed to AFP on Sunday that the latest incident took place in territory seized from Kiev by Russian-backed separatists.

"A man armed with an assault rifle (AK-47) sexually harassed a female patrol member and threatened to stop the patrol from moving east from Petrivske towards Rozdolne until his demands were met," the OSCE said in a statement released late Saturday.

The patrol then "left the area via a different road", it said, without specifying when the incident happened.

The unarmed OSCE mission is the only international presence on the ground in Ukraine observing the implementation of a largely-ignored peace deal signed in February 2015.

Ukrainian forces and rebels clash sporadically along the volatile frontline as the conflict which has cost some 10,000 lives since April 2014 rumbles on.

Kiev and the West accuse Russia of masterminding and fuelling the conflict, but Moscow denies evidence it has sent troops and weapons across the border.