Ukraine troops surround Slavyansk rebel stronghold

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Ukraine troops surround Slavyansk rebel stronghold

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In the rebel stronghold of Slavyansk in Ukraine, residents say they are tired of the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Kyiv supporters as the country slides further towards war.

Analysts say if Kyiv has not already lost its industrial east, it risks doing so on Sunday. People there will vote in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ referendum on secession.

Many are ethnic Russians or native Russian speakers. Some wear the red-blue-black flag of the rebel republic.

Ukraine says its forces are tightening a noose around Slavyansk.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops at the border some 160 km away, there are warnings that a Ukrainian advance into the city could trigger a bloodbath.