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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ukraine: Gunmen Storm Two Security Buildings

 An armed man stands in front of Pro-Russian protesters near the police headquarters in Slaviansk
o-Russian militants have seized a second security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, in the latest in a string of attacks on government offices across the region.
Police said gunmen stormed the city's local security service headquarters on Saturday, hours after the same group took the police headquarters.

They claimed that around 20 men dressed in camouflage fired several shots into the air before entering the police building. 
Ukrainian special forces have reportedly been sent to the scene.
Police said the militants have taken hundreds of guns to distribute to protesters.
But a Reuters journalist on the scene has said he has seen no evidence of that and a previous police report which said gunmen in the eastern city of Luhansk had taken 60 hostages later proved untrue.
An armed man stands in front of Pro-Russian protesters near the police headquarters in Slaviansk
Separatists are now holding government buildings in three eastern cities
In a statement on his Facebook page acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov warned that the government's response to the "terrorists" would be "very severe."
He said another group of men had also attempted to take control of a prosecutor's office in the region, but was repelled. 
Mr Avakov added: "Another self-declared defence minister has been arrested."
The interior minister previously gave pro-Russian separatists 48 hours to end their occupation of government buildings in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, however that deadline has since passed.
Armed men stand in front of the police headquarters building in Slaviansk
Activists have raised the Russian flag above the building
Activists staged attacks on a total of three cities on Sunday, but were swiftly removed from one building in Kharkiv. 
Protesters in Ukraine's east, which has a large ethnic Russian population, hope to follow in the footsteps of the Crimean Peninsula and force a referendum on joining the Russian Federation.
In Donetsk, (80 miles from Sloviansk), protesters have already proclaimed the creation of their own "people's republic."
Western leaders have joined Ukraine's interim government in voicing suspicions that Russia may be behind the recent surge in violence. 
A map showing the location of a shooting and protests in Ukraine
Buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk were seized last weekend
They have expressed concern Russia may be using the attacks as a pretext for extending its military control beyond Crimea. 
According to Nato up to 40,000 Russian troops are currently massed along the Ukrainian border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to protect ethnic Russians in the region, many of whom are suspicious of the new Western-friendly government which ousted Kremlin ally President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
However he has denied stoking tensions, saying he has no plans to invade.
Russia's gradual takeover of military bases in Crimea, which preceded the overwhelmingly-backed referendum, prompted EU and US sanctions against a number of Russian and Ukrainian individuals.
Pro-Russian protesters shout slogans at the police headquarters in Slaviansk
Pro-Russian protesters are gathered outside the police office in Sloviansk
The US has since followed that up with sanctions against six of Crimea's breakaway leaders.
They include the officials who helped secure the vote and signed the deal with Russia to split from the Ukraine.
Also on the list was a subsidiary of a Ukrainian state gas company whose assets have been seized by the Crimean authorities.
No sanctions targeting Russia's economy have yet been levied.
Top-level talks on the crisis are to take place between the Kiev government, the US, EU and Russia in Geneva on Thursday.

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