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Slavyansk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Kiev claimed it inflicted stinging defeats on pro-Kremlin rebels in east Ukraine on Thursday, as US President Barack Obama accused Russia of not abiding by a deal to defuse the escalating crisis in the ex-Soviet country. Shooting was heard in the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk, where a roadblock manned by insurgents was in flames, according to an AFP journalist. Ukrainian special forces retook control of the town hall in the southeastern port city of Mariupol and an army base in the eastern town of Artemivsk repelled an attack by heavily-armed rebels, Kiev's interior and defence ministries said. They were the first military successes announced by Ukraine's Western-backed government since pro-Russian militants seized control of a string of towns in the country's southeast over the past several weeks.
BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint south of Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 11 people, officials said, the latest episode in an uptick in violence in the run-up to next week's parliamentary elections.