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An NBC News crew was briefly detained by pro-Russian militia Thursday on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

The crew was on its way to cover a referendum Sunday on whether Crimea should break away from Ukraine and join Russia, a vote that the United States says is illegitimate. Russian troops fanned out two weeks ago to take control of the peninsula.

Earlier in the day, Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, reported on trying to avoid checkpoints as he traveled to cover the vote.