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Civilians told to stay inside in flashpoint Ukraine city (update – officer killed))

Pro-Russian protester's man a barricade in front of the occupied police station in Slaviansk, Ukraine, 13 April 2014

One Ukrainian state security officer was killed and five others were wounded on the side of government forces in an “anti-terrorist” operation on Sunday against pro-Russian separatist militants in a city in the east, the interior minister said.

On the side of the separatists there had been an “unidentifiable number” of casualties during the operation in the town of Slaviansk, the minister, Arsen Avakov, said on his Facebook page.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister on Sunday told residents in the eastern city of Slaviansk to stay indoors, in anticipation of clashes between pro-Russian militants who have seized official buildings and Ukrainian security forces.

Ukrainian security forces have launched an “anti-terrorist” operation to end the grip of separatists on an eastern town, Ukraine’s interior minister said on Sunday.

“An anti-terrorist operation has begun in Slaviansk. It is being directed by the anti-terrorist centre of the state security service. Forces from all the security units of the country have been brought in,” Interfax news agency quoted the minister, Arsen Avakov, as saying on his Facebook page.

Pro-Russian activists carrying automatic weapons seized government buildings in the town about 150 km (90 miles) from the Russian border on Saturday, and set up barricades on the outskirts of the city.

A Reuters correspondent outside the town’s police headquarters, one of the buildings seized, said two military helicopters were flying overhead.

About a dozen women, who had been in the building when it was seized, were evacuated as soon as Avakov’s announcement was made known.

A group of up to a 100 civilians, many of them elderly women, stood in front of the building, chanting messages of solidarity to the protesters inside, including “Referendum!”, a reference to demands for a local poll to be held to determine a separate status for the region.

On the building’s forecourt, which itself was barricaded, protesters beat out a defiant tattoo on shields they were carrying.


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