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Ukraine forces briefly occupy city hall in eastern Mariupol

Published on May 7, 2014 7:11 PM
 
Ukrainian policemen guard the entrance of a state city building in Mariupol on May 7, 2014. Ukrainian forces seized the rebel-held city hall in the eastern port city of Mariupol overnight, driving out pro-Russian activists, then withdrew, making no attempt to hold onto the building, witnesses said on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (REUTERS) - Ukrainian forces seized the rebel-held city hall in the eastern port city of Mariupol overnight, driving out pro-Russian activists, then withdrew, making no attempt to hold onto the building, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Ukraine's Channel 5 television said earlier the Ukrainian National Guard had seized the administrative centre in Mariupol, a mainly Russian-speaking city of half a million and key component in the self-declared breakaway People's Republic of Donetsk that will hold a referendum on secession this weekend.

But witnesses said the soldiers left after smashing furniture and office equipment.

The smell of tear gas hung in the air inside the building which was largely empty in the morning, except for activists in gas masks clearing debris.

 
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