Gunmen Stormed A Crimea Hotel Full of Reporters On Saturday [PHOTOS]
On Saturday, the day before Crimea's referendum under armed guard, about two dozen commandos took over a hotel in the Crimean capital of Simferpol where numerous journalists were staying.
TIME's Simon Shuster was one of those journalists, and reports that they appeared to be trained professionals who were "armed to the hilt" with silencer-equipped Kalashnikov assault rifles and sidearms.
"We're looking for an armed criminal," one of the masked commandos told TIME. "This is a special operation."
Crimea's police force said it was a training operation. The office of the peninsula's leader said it was a search for a cache of weapons that was never found. Whatever it was, and whoever these armed men were, it looked intense.
Here's ABC's Andrew Marquardt, who is also reporting from Crimea, responding to one of Shuster's tweets:
Will stop complaining about our hotel and its internet. MT @shustry Gunmen have released me from 6th floor after patting me down for guns.- Alexander Marquardt (@MarquardtA) March 15, 2014
And one more look at one of the masked men:
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