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Ukraine officer killed in gunbattle in east

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, killing one security officer and wounding five others, the interior minister said. It was the first reported gunbattle in east Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia men have seized a number of law enforcement buildings in recent days.

Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post that a Security Service officer was killed in Slovyansk, where the police station and local Security Service office were seized a day earlier by camouflaged armed men. He also reported an unclear number of casualties among the militia.

An Associated Press reporter on the ground didn't see any sign of violence when he arrived Sunday.

The unrest in Slovyansk and the nearby major industrial city Donetsk were the latest shows of spiraling anger in eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population and was also the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president ousted in February following months of protests in Kiev, the capital. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine's east widely fear that the new pro-Western Ukrainian government will suppress them.

Avakov has described the unrest as "Russian aggression."

In an earlier post, he said the men who seized the buildings in Slovyansk had opened fire on Ukrainian special forces sent to the city Sunday. He called on residents to remain calm and stay at home.

An Associated Press reporter saw no signs of any shots fired at the police station, which was surrounded by a reinforced line of barricades. Unlike on Saturday, the men patrolling the barricades were largely unarmed. One of the guards who asked not to be identified denied reports of fighting at the police station.

Armed camouflaged men were guarding a checkpoint at the main entrance into the city.

In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "expressed strong concern" that the attacks "were orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea," according the State Department. Kerry "made clear that if Russia didn't take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences," the department said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry debunked Kerry's claims, while Lavrov blamed the crisis in Ukraine on the failure of the Ukrainian government "to take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population," the ministry said. Lavrov also warned that Russia may pull out of next week's Ukraine summit if Kiev uses force against "residents of the southeast who were driven to despair."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is in Ukraine this weekend, condemned the unrest in a Twitter post as "a coordinated armed action to seize control over key parts of Eastern Ukraine," which "would not have happened without Russia."

In Slovyansk, the mayor said Saturday the men who seized the police station were demanding a referendum on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia. Protesters in other eastern cities have made similar demands after a referendum in Crimea last month in which voters opted to split off from Ukraine, leading to annexation by Russia.

Overnight, the interior minister reported an attack on a police station in the nearby city of Kramatorsk. A video from local news website Kramatorsk.info showed a group of camouflaged men armed with automatic weapons storming the building. The news website also reported that supporters of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic have occupied the administration building, built a barricade with tires around it and put a Russian flag nearby.

Regional news website OstroV said three key administrative buildings have been seized in another city in the area, Enakiyeve.

On Saturday in Donetsk, the regional capital, witnesses said the men who entered the police building were wearing the uniforms of the Berkut, the feared riot police squad that was disbanded in February after Yanukovych's ouster. Berkut officers' violent dispersal of a demonstration in Kiev in November set off the mass protests that culminated in bloodshed in February when more than 100 people died in sniper fire. The acting government says the snipers were police.

It wasn't immediately clear if the men who occupied the Donetsk police building had made any demands, but the Donetsk police chief said on national television that he was forced to offer his resignation.

Join the discussion

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Mike April 13 2014 at 7:41 AM

The US can't handle disgruntled cow ranchers within its own borders. What are we to do with the rest of the world?

Flag Reply +9 rate up
korrectionelecshun April 13 2014 at 9:57 AM

keep fighting n revolting .,till obamit n his fat american hating wife are both removed from our white house in handcuffs along with their record unemployment n unaffordable ,unconstitutional welfare hell care . !!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
razaminaz April 13 2014 at 9:56 AM

I guess this is what happens when you have a president that is as weak as Obama. I just hope he doesn' throw a hissy fit like he's prone to (Barry that is) and start WWIII to show how tough he is.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Christopher April 13 2014 at 9:47 AM

I wonder if this is happening because of a shadowy character who made a video...LOL

Flag Reply +4 rate up
margaret April 13 2014 at 11:02 AM

I say: leave the Russians alone. This ia s RUSSIAN "COSA NOSTRA".

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ramonbatt April 13 2014 at 8:53 AM

Looks like Kerry is the right man to carry the strong support of United States president. ( Obama famous support word on every turmoil. ( WE ARE DIPLY CONCERN ) while doing nothing. I wish he would just shut up and go on vacations till after elections in 2016? That would gain some leadership to the United States!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Jerry April 13 2014 at 8:57 AM

Putin has been planning this for a long time, thats why these troups are so well suppled.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
rgkarasiewicz Jerry April 13 2014 at 9:01 AM

Viva President Putin!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
rgkarasiewicz rgkarasiewicz April 13 2014 at 9:43 AM

That is a splendid idea, but I think that I'll do more good here.

Flag +1 rate up
ARBITRAJ April 13 2014 at 9:47 AM

It's astonishing that the media in the west portraits the ethnic Russian Ukrainians as 'separatists', while at the same time the people that protested a month ago in Kiev were portrayed as exercising their 'democratic rights to protest' (and violently overthrow the elected government while at it). ...The hypocrisy in western media surprises with a new low with each passing 'report'...

Flag Reply +8 rate up
tbplayer44 April 13 2014 at 8:59 AM

Ha! Are Obama and Kerry threatening Putin with a "time out"? What they are really doing is what Obama does with everything - trying his best to ut off any action until after an election... in this case, the 2016 election. Obama doesnt seem to care if our entire Country falls apart... as long as he can get past the next election first...

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
bottomtime321 tbplayer44 April 13 2014 at 9:20 AM

Red Lines, Time Outs, Obama has all the Tricks.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
JIM ISHOO April 13 2014 at 11:08 AM

Media is doing all this, it is all lie and ratings. For over month and half CNN is talking on the same subject (MH370), with no clue what so ever.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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