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Pro-Russian insurgents seize armored vehicles

Wednesday - 4/16/2014, 2:40pm  ET

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Efforts by Ukraine's government to re-establish control over the eastern part of the country appear to have been dealt a setback today.

Pro-Russian insurgents were able to commandeer six Ukrainian armored vehicles, along with their crews. They hoisted Russian flags over them, as the Ukrainian soldiers manning the vehicles offered no armed resistance. Members of the pro-Russian militias, wearing masks, then sat on top of the vehicles in combat fatigues as they drove into the eastern city of Slovyansk. The city is a hotbed of unrest against Ukraine's interim government.

Insurgents in the city have taken over the police headquarters and the administration building. They're demanding broader autonomy for eastern Ukraine, and closer ties with Russia.

Those actions have been repeated in at least eight other cities in eastern Ukraine. The central government in Kiev says Moscow is encouraging the unrest.

One of the Ukrainian soldiers said he and the other had defected to the pro-Russian side.

But another soldier was overheard suggesting that they had been forced at gunpoint to hand over the vehicles.

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131-c-10-(Maria Danilova (dah-nee-LOH'-vuh), AP correspondent)-"waved Russian flags"-AP correspondent Maria Danilova reports that a military convoy has made its way into a Ukrainian city already controlled by pro-Russia demonstrators. ((refers to the city of Slovyansk)) (16 Apr 2014)

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132-c-17-(Maria Danilova (dah-nee-LOH'-vuh), AP correspondent)-"be independently confirmed"-AP correspondent Maria Danilova reports some of the men in the military convoy might be defectors. (16 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO MOSB107: A column of combat vehicles with a Russian flag on the front one makes its way to the town of Kramatorsk on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. An Associated Press reporter said he saw a column of combat vehicles in an eastern Ukrainian city, occupied by pro-Russian insurgents and flying Russian flags. (AP Photo/ Evgeniy Maloletka) (16 Apr 2014)

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