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Crimea airport normal despite reports of armed take-over

Crimea airport is operating normally reported an AFP journalist at the scene despite earlier reports that some 50 armed men had seized the airport where representatives of Ukraine's new interim government are reportedly due to arrive at.

KIEV: Despite reports that some 50 armed men had seized the airport of Crimea's capital Simferopol, journalists at the scene say nothing seems amiss.

The airport is operating normally reported an AFP journalist at the scene who also said access to the airport remains open with passengers checking in for flights.

However, outside the airport perimeter, there appears to be about a dozen unidentified armed men, adding jitters to the situation where Crimean government buildings have been stormed by armed pro-Kremlin gunmen.

Interfax-Ukraine news agency citing witnesses, had reported that the airport had been overrun by armed men carrying Russian navy flags, a day after pro-Russian gunmen took over government buildings in the city.

The armed men dressed in uniforms with no designated marks, reportedly took control of the airport overnight after arriving in trucks, the report said.

Representatives of Ukraine's new interim government are reportedly due to fly into the Russian-speaking peninsula on Friday.

Over at the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Ukraine's deposed president Viktor Yanukovych is said to be planning a news conference which will be his first public appearance since fleeing Ukraine.

The news conference will take place at 1300 GMT with the exact location to be announced later said Russian news agencies quoted unnamed sources in his entourage.

On Thursday, Crimea's regional parliament, which remains under the control of pro-Moscow gunmen, voted to hold a referendum on May 25 to expand the region's autonomy from Kiev and replace the local government with a pro-Russian official.

The move comes after the ouster of Kremlin-allied Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych last weekend following the deaths of scores of people in clashes in Kiev.

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