April 24 - Clashes between armed separatists and government forces at a security checkpoint leave up to five pro-Russian rebels dead, raising fears that Russian troops might enter the fray. Mana Rabiee reports.
Ukrainian government forces police the town hall in the eastern city of Mariupol. They reportedly retook the occupied building from armed pro-Russian separatists over night. It was one of several clashes on Thursday, as the government closes in on separatist military strongholds in the east. One protester says he was inside the building when it was stormed during the night. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UNIDENTIFIED MAN WITH WOUND TO HIS HEAD, CLAIMING TO BE PRO-RUSSIAN ACTIVIST ESCAPED FROM TOWN HALL, SAYING: "Unknown men in masks with no signs, shouting, attacked us. They were beating everybody in sight, indiscriminately. Then they gathered everybody in one room. When asked to provide medical assistance, they refused." Burning car tires at a rebel checkpoint in Slaviansk, the new epicenter of the separatist movement. Government forces took control of three security checkpoints here on Thursday, killing up to five pro-Russian rebels. But within hours, the troops pulled back from one of the checkpoints and separatists moved back into their positions there. In the rebel-occupied city square, a woman shouts that tanks have come into the valley. Residents say they're afraid of their future. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SLAVIANSK RESIDENT, KATERINA SAYING: "It's scary, really scary. I'm afraid for my baby. My baby only just started to live, and it's scary all the same. I am really worried a lot." Many but not all of the rebels seek annexation to neighboring Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine on Thursday of consequences if it uses its army against the pro-Russian separatists. The Kremlin launched military drills along Ukraine's border in response to Thursday's killings. Raising fears that Russian troops may move into Ukraine.