Kiev says pro-Russians holding 60 'hostages' in east Ukraine

KIEV (AFP) - Ukraine's state security service said on Tuesday that pro-Russian separatists who had seized one of its regional headquarters had mined the building and were holding 60 people "hostage".

The SBU security service said it had "established" that militants in the heavily Russified city of Lugansk had rigged the building with explosives after seizing it on Sunday and releasing several suspects that Ukrainian authorities had accused of trying to stage a coup.

"The Lugansk separatists have mined the SBU building and taken 60 hostages," the security service said in a statement.

"Threatening them with weapons and explosives, the separatists are holding 60 people against their will, not letting them leave the building and return home." The SBU did not explain why it was making the announcement two days after the actual raid.

The Russian militants have refused to allow any media inside the building and it was unclear how the SBU knew that its regional headquarters had been mined.

The Lugansk raid occurred on the same day that militants had also taken control of the main administration offices of the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk.

The Kharkiv regional building was retaken by Ukrainian security personnel on Tuesday morning.

But the pro-Russians remained in control of the Donetsk office a day after proclaiming the creation of a sovereign "people's republic" and calling on the Kremlin to send in its troops.

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