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Ukraine says closure of transport to Crimea is temporary

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's suspension of transport connections with the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula is expected to be only a temporary measure, a Ukrainian security official said Saturday.

Ukraine blocked rail and bus travel Friday between the mainland and the peninsula, which Russia seized in March. On Saturday, the Crimean customs service said vehicles also were stopped at two of the three crossing points on the isthmus leading to Crimea, but traffic resumed in late afternoon.

Train and bus traffic was suspended because "there is a high likelihood of sabotage groups entering under the guise of local people," Ukrainian security council spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko told a briefing. He didn't say how long the closure would last.

PHOTO: A train from Ukraine arrives at a railway station in Simferopol, Crimea, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. Ukraine on Friday blocked rail and bus travel between the mainland and the peninsula that was annexed by Russia in March. On Saturday, the Crimean customs service said automobiles were also blocked at two of the three crossing points on the isthmus leading to Crimea, but traffic resumed in late afternoon. (AP Photo/Anton Volk)
A train from Ukraine arrives at a railway station in Simferopol, Crimea, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. Ukraine on Friday blocked rail and bus travel between the mainland and the peninsula that was annexed by Russia in March. On Saturday, the Crimean customs service said automobiles were also blocked at two of the three crossing points on the isthmus leading to Crimea, but traffic resumed in late afternoon. (AP Photo/Anton Volk)

Ukrainian police were investigating three fatal explosions in the south of the country, two of them in a city near Crimea and one in Odessa, a major Black Sea port where tensions between pro-Russia residents and supporters of the Kiev government have been strong since more than 40 Russia supporters died when sheltering in a building set ablaze by firebombs in May.

In Kherson, a major city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Crimea, a man blew himself up at a currency exchange booth after demanding money, and another died when explosives he was carrying detonated outside a store, news reports said. In Odessa, a man died while carrying explosives before dawn, according to reports. Further details weren't immediately available.

In Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine and one of the centers of Ukrainian nationalism and suspicion of Russia, the mayor's house came under fire for the second time this year, local police said.

No one was injured, because the mayor and his family were on holiday, but the residence sustained significant damage, police said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

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