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34 reported dead, mostly insurgents, in Ukraine

By The Associated Press

This article was published May 6, 2014 at 8:15 a.m.

DONETSK, Ukraine — Thirty pro-Russia insurgents and four government troops have been killed during operations to expunge anti-government forces around a key eastern city, Ukraine's interior minister reported Tuesday.

In the southwest, Kiev authorities also attempted to reassert control over the key Black Sea region of Odessa by appointing a new governor there.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov gave the death toll on his Facebook page Tuesday, adding that 20 government troops were also injured during fighting in Slovyansk, a city of 125,000. It was not exactly clear when the deaths took place. Gunbattles around the city Monday were the interim government's most ambitious effort to date to quell weeks of unrest in Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking east.

Avakov said Monday that about 800 pro-Russia forces in and around Slovyansk were deploying large-caliber weapons and mortars and there were injured on both sides.

By Tuesday morning, Ukrainian forces had taken hold of a key checkpoint north of the city, dealing a blow to insurgent lines of communication. The checkpoint had come under repeated attack since the government offensive began.

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