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Ukraine accused Russia on Saturday of invading a region bordering Crimea and vowed to use "all necessary measures" to ward off an attack that came on the eve of the peninsula's breakaway vote. The dramatic escalation of the most serious East-West crisis since the Cold War set a tense stage for the referendum on Crimea's secession from Ukraine in favour of Kremlin rule -- a vote denounced by both the international community and Kiev. The predominantly Russian-speaking Black Sea region of two million people was overrun by Kremlin-backed troops days after the February 22 fall in Kiev of a Moscow-backed regime and the rise of nationalist leaders who favour closer ties with the West. President Vladimir Putin defended Moscow's decision to flex its military muscle by arguing that ethnic Russians in Ukraine needed "protection" from violent ultranationalists who had been given free reign by the new Kiev administration.
Gunmen killed six soldiers at a Cairo checkpoint Saturday in a brazen attack which the military blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood movement of Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The attack came two days after gunmen killed a soldier in Cairo, as militants once based in the Sinai Peninsula increasingly widen attacks that have killed more than 200 security men since the army overthrew Morsi last July. The assailants opened fire on military policemen Saturday as they were finishing their morning Muslim prayers and then planted two bombs to target first responders, the military said in a statement. Most of the attacks since Morsi's ouster have been carried out in the Sinai, but militants have expanded their reach to the Nile Delta and the capital in recent months.