Ukraine rebel leader 'recovering from injury'

Alexander Zakharchenko, head of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, was wounded in a firefight but says his life was not in danger (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)

Moscow (AFP) - A separatist rebel leader in eastern Ukraine has been wounded and was on Wednesday recovering in hospital after a firefight in the town of Debaltseve where violence is continuing despite the European-brokered truce.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine that has been fighting with Ukrainian forces, told Life News website that his life was not in danger.

"We are alive. Nobody was killed, not me and not anyone from my regiment," he said from his hospital bed. "We'll address health issues when peace comes... nothing scary happened today," he said.

Russian agencies quoting medics in Donetsk reported that Zakharchenko had been shot in the right foot.

Fighting continued on Wednesday in Debaltseve, a town in Donetsk region. The pro-Russian separatists claim they have completely surrounded the town, while demanding that thousands of Ukrainian soldiers inside surrender their weapons.

Although a ceasefire agreed in marathon talks last week went into effect at the weekend, shelling has only intensified in Debaltseve as rebels moved in, with Zakharchenko insisting that it is inside rebel-held territory and thus not part of the ceasefire agreement.

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