Lyubov Kozhura had almost succeeded in the desperate rush to reach a place of safety with her grandchildren when two artillery shells landed. Six-year-old Karolina was killed instantly; her brother Nikita, nine, was injured by the first blast, but, disabled and confined to a wheelchair, he could not get way before the second round came in.

The little girl and boy were among the last to die before the signing of the truce that could be the first step towards ending the bloodshed in Ukraine's savage civil war, which had cost more than 2,600 lives so far and left a land devastated.

On Saturday, people in the east of the country, battered by six months of fighting, were tentatively tasting the first day of peace. Although the two sides accused the other of breaching the terms of the deal struck 24 hours earlier in the Belarus capital Minsk, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, agreed with Vladimir Putin in a telephone call that the ceasefire was largely holding and discussed measures, said Kiev, which need be taken to ensure that it is not derailed.

The agreement came after separatist forces, heavily backed by soldiers and weaponry of the Russian armed forces, won a series of victories, according to Kiev and Western governments. One by-product of that has been caches of arms abandoned by Ukrainian forces.

Thousands have been made homeless since February

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