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Heavy shooting after Ukraine rebels seize Donetsk airport

Pro-Russian militants take position on the roof of the international airport of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 26, 2014Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) – The main airport in Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk was rocked by an explosion and heavy shooting on Monday after armed rebels seized the facility, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. Thick black smoke was seen rising from the airport complex as the sound of heavy machinegun fire rang out and fighter jets could be heard overhead. The strategic transport hub had been evacuated and sealed off after gunmen claiming to be from the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” showed up overnight demanding that Ukrainian troops guarding the airport perimeter be withdrawn. The raid was launched in the hours after billionaire Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in a presidential election Sunday that the pro-Russian rebels have dismissed as illegitimate.

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