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More buildings seized in east Ukraine

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Ukrainian government soldier guards a checkpoint near the village of Dolina, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The European Union on Tuesday released the names of 15 new targets of sanctions because of their roles in the Ukraine crisis. The list includes Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff and first deputy defense minister, and Lt. Gen. Igor Sergun, identified as head of GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Ukrainian government soldier guards a checkpoint near the village of Dolina, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The European Union on Tuesday released the names of 15 new targets of sanctions because of their roles in the Ukraine crisis. The list includes Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff and first deputy defense minister, and Lt. Gen. Igor Sergun, identified as head of GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A pro-Russian gunman prepares his weapon as his comrades are about to storm a regional police station building in Luhansk, Ukraine, one of the largest cities in Ukraine’s troubled east, Tuesday, April 29, 2014, as demonstrators demand greater autonomy for Ukraine’s regions. The action on Tuesday further raises tensions in the east, where insurgents have seized control of police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns. (AP Photo)

Pro-Russian activists with Orthodox icons pray celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, one of the largest cities in Ukraine’s troubled east, Tuesday, April 29, 2014, as demonstrators demand greater autonomy for Ukraine’s regions. The action on Tuesday further raises tensions in the east, where insurgents have seized control of police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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HORLIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian gunmen have seized more administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine, further raising tensions in Ukraine’s Russian-leaning regions shaken by separatist unrest.

Insurgents wielding automatic weapons took control and hoisted a separatist flag on top of the city council building Wednesday morning in the city of Horlivka in the Donetsk region which borders Russia. They also took control of a police station in the city, adding to another police building which they had controlled for several weeks.

An Associated Press reporter saw a small group of men standing guard outside the building and checking the documents of those entering. One of the men said that foreign reporters will not be allowed in and threatened to arrest those don’t obey orders. Similar guards were also seen outside the police station in the city.

The insurgents now control buildings in about a dozen cities in eastern Ukraine, demanding broader regional rights as well as greater ties or outright annexation by Russia. The militiamen are holding some activists and journalists hostage, including a group of observers from a European security organization.

Eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population, was the heartland of support for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president who fled to Russia in February. The government that replaced him in Kiev has resisted the insurgents’ demands, fearing they could lead to a breakup of the country or mean that more regions could join Russia, as Crimea did.

Kiev and Western governments accuse Moscow of orchestrating the protests in eastern Ukraine. The United States and the European Union rolled out a fresh set of economic sanctions against Russia this week, but Moscow has remained unbowed, denying its role in the unrest and saying the actions were Kiev’s fault.

Associated Press

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