(QHA) -

A Ukrainian official says nine troops have been killed in fierce fighting against pro-Russian separatists for control of Ilovaysk-- a town in eastern Ukraine, that lies on a major railroad and a highway that connects the regional capital of Donetsk to the Russian border.

An adviser to the interior minister said on Facebook that government troops controlled half the town of Ilovaysk, outside the separatist stronghold of Donetsk. But he said rebels were putting up fierce resistance on August 20 after more than a day of fighting.

Rebels contended government forces controlled only one part of Ilovaysk.

Fighting in Ukraine's mostly rebel-held region of Donetsk has killed 34 local residents and wounded 29 others in the past 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday. More than 2,000 people have been killed in over four months.