Ukraine cancels upcoming local polls near combat zone

Election officials in Ukraine have canceled upcoming local polls in parts of two rebel-controlled regions near the Russian border, after determining that authorities can not guarantee voter or polling place safety.

The Central Election Commission, in a statement Sunday, said the cancellations of October 25 voting will affect 91 local councils in the rebel-held Donetsk region and 31 local councils in the nearby Luhansk region.

The statement said the cancelations target voting for village councils in locales near the demarcation line separating Ukrainian government forces from pro-Russian rebel fighters battling for control of the Russian-speaking east.

The demarcation line was established early this year as part of a bilateral agreement to end fighting that has claimed more than 6,500 lives since separatists launched their rebellion in April 2014.

But international observers say the February truce has been violated on a near daily basis, with the Kyiv government and rebels routinely accusing each other of initiating artillery and rocket fire.