Armed men with Russian flags take control of Crimean airport
Pro-Russian demonstrators hold placards reading 'Crimea for peace' as they stand on a T-34 Soviet tank, set as a WWII monument in front of the Crimean parliament on Feb. 27, 2014 [AFP]

Some 50 armed men on Friday seized the airport of Crimea's capital Simferopol, a day after pro-Russian gunmen took over government buildings in the city, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported, citing witnesses.


The armed men carrying Russian navy flags took control of the airport overnight after arriving in trucks, the report said.

An eyewitness source told AFP that the gunmen appeared to be in control of the airport early Friday morning.

Representatives of Ukraine's new interim government had reportedly been due to fly into the Russian-speaking peninsula Friday.

On Thursday Crimea's regional parliament, which remained under the control of pro-Moscow gunmen, voted to hold a referendum on May 25 to expand the region's autonomy from Kiev and replaced the local government with a pro-Russian official.

The raid followed the ouster of Kremlin-allied Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych last weekend in an avalanche of change following the deaths of scores of people in clashes in Kiev.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]