Ukraine fights back against insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country

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Ukraine fights back against insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country
Pro-Russian activists escort a man (unseen) who they say is a provocateur outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists escort a man who they say is a provocateur (C) outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists assist an Orthodox priest walk through a barricade outside the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists pray near a barricade outside the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An armed pro-Russian protester kisses a cross hanging on the neck of an Orthodox priest as they guard the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russian protesters guard the regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Kiev said on April 13 that several had been left 'dead and wounded' in fighting to oust pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive eastern city of Slavyansk, as Washington warned Moscow to de-escalate the crisis or face the consequences. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia supporters surround a man who they say is a provocateur (C) outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russia supporters walk outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
People greet an ?rmed pro-Russia supporter outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister said on April 13 that both sides had suffered casualties during a raid launched by Ukrainian special forces on a police station in the eastern city of Slavyansk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists walk near a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Russian activist squints as he warms himself near a fire outside the headquarters of Ukraine's security agency building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Separatists demanding a referendum to join Russia seized the building a week ago as a wave of secessionist anger swept eastern Ukraine, whose mainly Russian-speaking population feels under threat from a new pro-Western government in Kiev. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
LUHANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 12: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) A government building occupied by Pro-Russian protesters is seen on April 12, 2014 in Luhansk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters have occupied the government building in the eastern cities such as Donetsk and Luhansk, declared the independence from Kiev, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told there is no intention to annex the eastern Ukraine. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
LUHANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 12: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) A government building occupied by Pro-Russian protesters is seen on April 12, 2014 in Luhansk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters have occupied the government building in the eastern cities such as Donetsk and Luhansk, declared the independence from Kiev, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told there is no intention to annex the eastern Ukraine. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Po-Russian activists hold shields signed 'Obama hands off Ukraine'and 'Down with US and EU' as they guard a barricade outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Gunmen have taken over a police station in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin militants are already holding state buildings in several cities, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Saturday. 'Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk,' Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, adding that 'the reaction will be very strong.' He did not provide any other details.. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Po-Russian activists warm themselves outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 12, 2014. Gunmen have taken over a police station in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin militants are already holding state buildings in several cities, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Saturday. 'Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk,' Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, adding that 'the reaction will be very strong.' He did not provide any other details.. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia activists prepare Molotov cocktails as they guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Russia protester guards outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by the armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russia protesters guard a barricade outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists in Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine on Sunday launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern town of Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists stand on a barricade outside a regional police building seized by the armed separatists to prevent storming by the Ukrainian police special team in the eastern city of Slavyansk on April 13, 2014. Ukraine today launched an 'anti-terrorist operation' in Slavyansk, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized police and security services buildings, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. 'Units from all of the country's force structures are participating. May God be with us,' the minister wrote on his Facebook page. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) -- In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, special forces on Tuesday recaptured a small airport that had been occupied by militiamen, the government said.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, had earlier announced an "anti-terrorist operation" against the insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country.

Heavy gunfire rang out at the airport near the town Kramatorsk. Russian state television reported four to 11 people had been killed, but there was no independent confirmation of any casualties. Much of the shooting appeared to have been warning shots into the air.

Kramatorsk is just south of the city of Slovyansk, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Russian border, which has come under the increasing control of the gunmen who seized it last weekend.

Earlier in the day, an Associated Press reporter saw at least 14 armored personnel carriers with Ukrainian flags, helicopters and military trucks parked 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of the city. Other heavy military equipment appeared nearby, along with at least seven busloads of government troops in black military fatigues.

"We are awaiting the order to move on Slovyansk," said one soldier, who gave only his first name, Taras.

Two of the helicopters loaded with troops were later seen taking off and flying toward Slovyansk. Witnesses said helicopters delivered several dozen troops to the Kramatorsk airfield.

The armed pro-Russian militias are occupying government, police and other administrative buildings in at least nine cities in the Russian-speaking east of the country around the major industrial city of Donetsk. They are demanding broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia.

The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, and many local security forces have switched to their side.

Speaking to parliament in Kiev, the capital, Turchynov announced late Tuesday that the Kramatorsk airport had been secured.

"I'm convinced that there will not be any terrorists left soon in Donetsk and other regions and they will find themselves in the dock - this is where they belong," Turchynov said.

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