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Angela Merkel on Wednesday condemned the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine and called for an immediate ceasefire, amid growing concerns about the impact of the fighting on the local population and on efforts to keep the two sides from relaunching a full-scale conflict.

​Steffen Seibert, the chancellor’s spokesman, urged both Kiev’s forces and the Russian-backed separatists to halt the violence. He expressed particular concern about the town of Avdiyivka, where the 20,000 residents have had their water and electricity cut off, with the temperature at 15 degrees below zero Celsius.

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