Masked gunmen in military fatigues seized government offices in another Ukrainian town on Wednesday, in a further sign that pro-Western authorities in Kiev are losing control of the country's eastern industrial heartland bordering Russia.
The gunmen, who turned up at dawn, took control of the offices in Horlivka, a town of almost 300,000 people, said a Reuters photographer. They refused to be photographed.
The armed men wore the same military uniforms without insignia as other unidentified "green men" who have joined pro-Russian protesters with clubs and chains in seizing control of towns across Ukraine's Donbass coal and steel belt.
Attempts to contain the insurgency by the government in Kiev have proved largely unsuccessful, with security forces repeatedly outmaneuvered by the separatists.
The West and the new Ukrainian government accuse Russia of being behind the unrest, a charge Moscow denies.
A police official in Donetsk, the provincial capital where separatists have declared a "People's Republic of Donetsk", said separatists were also in control of the Horlivka police station, having seized the regional police headquarters earlier in April.
Wednesday's takeover followed the fall of government buildings on Tuesday further east in Luhansk, capital of Ukraine's easternmost province, driving home just how far control over the densely populated region has slipped from the central government in Kiev.
The town sits just north of Donetsk, where mainly Russian-speaking separatists have called a referendum on secession for May 11.
Many hope to follow Crimea's break from Ukraine in March and subsequent annexation by Russia, following the overthrow of Ukraine's then Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in late February in a tug-of-war between the West and Russia over the strategic direction of the former Soviet republic.
The Donbass region is home to giant steel smelters and heavy plants that produce about a third of Ukraine's industrial output.
An armed uprising began there in early April, with Kiev almost powerless to respond.
Oleksander Turchynov, Ukraine's acting president until an election on May 25, reiterated on Wednesday that police were incapable of reasserting control in the region.
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