KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's government says it has secured a small airport in eastern Ukraine, after clashing with about 30 gunmen there.
The clash came hours after Ukraine's acting president announced an "anti-terrorist operation" against the armed, pro-Russian insurgents who had seized control of a number of buildings in at least nine cities in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine's government says the insurgents are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia. They are demanding closer ties with Moscow -- and many local security forces have switched to their side.
Today's clashes came at an airport just south of the city of Slovyansk. The city has come under the increasing control of the gunmen who seized it last weekend.
There are conflicting reports of casualties. The coordinator of a pro-Russian defense force says two people were slightly hurt. Russian media claim anywhere from four to 11 casualties at the airport. Ukraine's government says there were none.
156-a-14-(Edward Lucas, Russia expert, author of "The New Cold War", in interview)-"as this unrolls"-Edward Lucas, an author and analyst on Russian affairs, says the effort to retake the small but strategic airport was a smart move. COURTESY: Sky News ((mandatory on-air credit)) (15 Apr 2014)
<<CUT *156 (04/15/14)££ 00:14 "as this unrolls"
APPHOTO MOSB132: Pro-Russian activists make barricades in front of the gate of an airport in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, April 15, 2014. In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces clashed Tuesday with about 30 armed gunmen at a small airport in Kramatorsk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) (15 Apr 2014)
<<APPHOTO MOSB132 (04/15/14)££