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Ukraine's president slams police 'inaction' over rebels

© Photo: AFP

Video by Douglas HERBERT

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-29

Ukraine's interim president accused police forces in the east of the country of "inaction" and "treachery" on Tuesday as pro-Russia militants stormed police headquarters and other administrative buildings in the city of Luhansk.

Oleksandr Turchinov said in a statement that events in the restive east of the country had "shown the inaction, powerlessness and in some cases criminal treachery of the law enforcement authorities".

"It's hard to admit, but it is true: The vast majority of law enforcement officials in the east are not able to fulfil their obligation to protect our citizens," Turchinov added.

He called for "Ukrainian patriots", especially those living in the flashpoint eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, to sign up as volunteers to help the police force.

Authorities plan to launch a "hotline" for volunteers, he announced, especially encouraging those with military experience to come forward.

Pro-Russia militants have taken control of a string of towns in eastern Ukraine, with police appearing at times powerless to intervene and in some cases standing by while violence rages.

In the latest unrest, armed militia opened fire with automatic weapons and threw stun grenades at the local police headquarters in the eastern city of Luhansk on Tuesday, a Reuters photographer at the scene reported.

Around 20 gunmen shot at the building, trying to force police to surrender their weapons.

The militants were joined by a crowd of 1,000 pro-Moscow protesters who threw rocks and rushed the building’s rear gate, AFP reported.

Earlier, hundreds of pro-Russia militia took over the city’s government headquarters.

Video footage showed men, some dressed in green camouflage fatigues and holding shields, walking around what appeared to be the foyer of the building as hundreds massed outside the building’s large wooden doors.

The local television centre was also seized by pro-Russia militants, Reuters said.

(FRANE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-29

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