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Troops hit separatists in port: Ukrainian minister

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's interior minister said Friday that government troops have attacked pro-Russian separatists in the southern port of Mariupol — the second-largest city in the Donetsk region.

Arsen Avakov said that four government troops were wounded as forces retook buildings occupied by the rebels in the center of the city and that troops destroyed a light armored vehicle used by the separatists. An AP reporter saw a bullet-riddled armored vehicle and truck in front of a building in Mariupol.

The renewed fighting came as rebel leaders confirmed they have three tanks. Ukrainian officials have said the tanks crossed from the Russian side of the porous border and were attacked by Ukrainian troops, but there has been no independent confirmation the tanks came from Russia.

Rebel leader Denis Pushilin told Russian state television the separatists, who call themselves the Donetsk People's Republic, have the tanks, but that it was “improper to ask” where they had gotten them.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest in the east, but Russia has denied sending troops or weapons to Ukraine.

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