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Rights group: Civilians abused by rivals in Ukraine conflict

MOSCOW (AP) — A human rights group says civilians are being abducted and tortured by fighters on both sides of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

An annual report released by Human Rights Watch on Thursday accused the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists of holding dozens of civilians in arbitrary detention in Ukraine's industrial east, where fighting has killed more than 9,600 people since 2014.

The rights group lauded Ukrainian authorities for putting on trial last year some of members of the volunteer battalions suspected of grave abuses against civilians. But the group criticized the government for what it says is a failure to respond to nationalists' threats against journalists working in the conflict zone.

Human Rights Watch Ukraine researcher Tanya Cooper urged both sides to hold their forces accountable for crimes.

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