Ukraine starts light weapons withdrawal in east: military

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has started withdrawing tanks and light artillery from the frontline in the eastern region of Luhansk in accordance with a recent agreement with pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian military said on Monday. Ukraine and separatist leaders agreed last week to extend a pull-back of weapons in eastern Ukraine, which rebels said could mean an "end to the war" with the Ukrainian government. "Today at 11.00 in Luhansk region we began a simultaneous removal of T-64 and T-72 tanks and in some places anti-tank artillery D-48 and D-44 and ... mortars," spokesman Ruslan Tkachuk said on Facebook. Ukraine has 360 tanks in the conflict zone and 1,400 armored personnel carriers, according to military data published at the end of August. Tkachuk said the withdrawal had been agreed with representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and should be completed within the next 14 days. A ceasefire is holding in eastern territories, with both sides reporting few or no violations. On Saturday, a senior rebel official said separatists would begin withdrawing their weapons after Oct. 18 "on the condition that it is quiet", rebel website DAN reported. Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 8,000 people since mid-April 2014. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)