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Ukraine rebels seize coal mines, demand explosives

Separatist rebels on Thursday seized four Ukrainian coal mines in the east of the strife-torn country and demanded that its workers supply them with explosives, the energy ministry said.

KIEV: Separatist rebels on Thursday seized four Ukrainian coal mines in the east of the strife-torn country and demanded that its workers supply them with explosives, the energy ministry said.

The first such confirmed attack on an industry that is one of the main engines of Ukraine's economy came as the country prepares for a crunch presidential election on Sunday that the militants have vowed to disrupt.

The energy ministry provided few details of the incident, which occurred in the industrial Lugansk region neighbouring Russia, and it remained unclear how many rebels had been involved or what happened to the miners.

"The terrorists, threatening (workers) with guns, are demanding explosives," the ministry said in a statement, adding that the mines belong to the Lysychanskugol company.

"The energy ministry has asked the Ukrainian Security Service to take all the necessary immediate response measures," it said.

The statement added that another series of previously unreported attacks on two coal mines in the neighbouring Donetsk region had been repelled on Monday.

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