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Published: Thursday April 24, 2014 MYT 3:32:38 PM
Updated: Thursday April 24, 2014 MYT 3:34:17 PM

Ukrainian troops dig in near Slaviansk - Reuters correspondent

NEAR SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian troops were digging in to a new position a few miles from the separatist-held city of Slaviansk early on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent said.

Dozens of soldiers in camouflage uniform, some wearing airborne patches, were setting up sandbag defences around at least six BMD light armoured vehicles and putting up a tent near a settlement called Malynivka, some 12 km (8 miles) south of Slaviansk on the main road to the regional capital Donetsk.

Troops and police were manning a checkpoint on the road, checking vehicles moving in and out of the area. The military unit also had light machineguns and anti-tank weapons.

The Ukrainian government has said it is launching a renewed "anti-terrorist operation" to retake towns and public buildings held by pro-Russian separatists if they do not disarm and leave under the terms of an accord with Russia made in Geneva a week ago that was also signed by the United States and the European Union.

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said troops repelled an overnight attack on a base at Artemivsk, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Slaviansk by what he said was a force of about 70 led by Russian soldiers. Moscow denies having any troops in Ukraine.

One Ukrainian soldier was wounded in that engagement.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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