Ukraine separatists seize second provincial capital, fire on police
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 01:45
April 30 - Pro-Russia activists storm several official buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk and fire on police headquarters. Sarah Toms reports.
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A major escalation in the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Hundreds of pro-Russia separatists seize the regional government's headquarters and the prosecutor's office.
They targeted provincial buildings in this small city of Lukansk less than 30 kilometres from the Russian border.
Having control of this area would give separatists sway over the entire Donbass coalfield - which accounts for around a third of Ukraine's industrial output.
Shouting "Rise up", they gathered outside demanding a referendum on greater autonomy. Most of the people in this area speak Russian as their first language.
A group of men armed with sticks and bars broke into the building.
They pulled down the Ukrainian flag flying from the roof and replaced it with the Russian tricolour.
Crowds of pro-Russia activists then overran the building housing the prosecutor's office before attacking the headquarters of the interior ministry's police force.
Here some activists can be seen opening fire with automatic weapons, trying to force the officers inside to surrender.
Later police abandoned their station.
The UN political affairs chief briefed the security council on the latest violence.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) JEFFREY FELTMAN, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, UNITED NATIONS, SAYING:
"Groups of militia and armed civilians are increasing in number and springing up in more and more cities across the region, seizing buildings, mounting roadblocks and shutting whole towns and communities off from the rest of the country. There are increasing reports of torture, kidnappings and violent clashes.
The deteriorating conditions in the east of the country come despite new Western sanctions on Russia.
The sanctions are seen as mild, and that while a small number of names were added to the blacklists, threats to take more serious measures were put on hold.
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