Luhansk (Ukraine), April 29 (Reuters): Pro-Russian separatists opened fire on a police station in the city of Luhansk today after seizing the regional government headquarters, as Kiev’s control over swathes of eastern Ukraine evaporates.
The shooting, which followed a day of largely unopposed action at other sites, did not appear to cause casualties but a tense confrontation continued with police officers inside.
Earlier, pro-Moscow activists took the headquarters of the government of Luhansk region, the second such institution to fall this month after that of neighbouring Donetsk region.
Lines of riot police had surrounded the back of the government building, facing hundreds of men and women. But at the front, dozens of men, some in green camouflage and holding shields, had walked unopposed into the imposing, white building, while others smashed windows and raised the Russian tricolour.
The regional prosecutor’s office and television centre were next to fall, a Reuters photographer at the scene said, before around 20 gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles on the local police headquarters, demanding police surrender their weapons. A tense stand-off ensued and protesters burned the Ukrainian flag. The government in Kiev has all but lost control of its police forces in parts of eastern Ukraine since pro-Russian activists seized buildings in the region’s second biggest city of Donetsk.