Pro-Russian Separatists Seize Old KGB Building In Luhansk, Demand A Referendum (PICTURES)

09/04/2014 02:04 BST | Updated 09/04/2014 02:59 BST

Pro-Russian separatists in the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, which sits 30 miles from the Russian border, have occupied the former headquarters of the KGB, seizing a weapons cache that includes automatic rifles and stun grenades. According to local authorities, the agitators have wired the building with explosives, with unconfirmed reports suggesting that upwards of 60 hostages are being held against their will. The separatists deny both these claims.

The separatists have threatened to lay siege until there is a referendum on the region’s future status, with those in the building wanting to secede from Ukraine and become part of the Russian Federation. Reported by Reuters, Andrei, one of the men barricaded in the building, said he would "stay here until the end, until victory". He added: "Once you've taken up arms, there's no turning back."

Officials in Kiev have suggested that the events in Luhansk, as well as building seizures in Kharkiv and Donetsk, are the work of Russian spies, providing Moscow an excuse to invade eastern Ukraine. Police in Luhansk have so far made no effort to clear the building, the entrance of which is now adorned by a Soviet hammer and sickle.

Luhansk Siege