A Ukrainian military plane has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say.
They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 21,325ft.
The plane was targeted with “a more powerful missile” than a shoulder-carried missile, “probably fired” from Russia. The crew survived.
Russia has made no comment. Separately, NATO reported a Russian troop build-up near the Ukraine border.
The Ukrainian military plane has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels
Russia denies supporting and arming the separatists, and has invited officials from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to monitor its border with Ukraine.
A statement on Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko’s website said the An-26 was taking part in an “anti-terror operation” in the region.
The statement quoted Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletei as saying that a search-and-rescue operation was now under way.
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s security and defense council, was later quoted by Ukrainian media as saying that eight people were on board the plane.
Rebel forces earlier said they had targeted the aircraft in the Luhansk region.
This comes as the Ukrainian air force said it had delivered “five powerful air strikes” on targets in the region in a bid to end a rebel blockade of a strategic airport there.
Several targets were hit near the airport in the rebel-held city of Luhansk, a military spokesman said.
Ukraine’s military later said the airport had been “unblocked” and the army had retaken several villages.
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A Ukrainian military transport plane has been shot down by pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk, killing all 49 Ukrainian service personnel on board.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said the Il-76 transport plane crashed after coming under anti-aircraft fire over Luhansk.
In a statement it said “terrorists” had “cynically and treacherously” fired on the aircraft.
The plane was carrying troops and military equipment and was about to land at the city’s airport.
It is thought to be the biggest loss of life suffered by government forces in a single incident since Kiev began an operation to try to defeat the insurgency in east Ukraine.
A Ukrainian military transport plane has been shot down by pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk, killing all 49 people on board
Military spokesman Vladislav Seleznov said “preliminary information” suggested all 49 military personnel on board the aircraft – nine flight crew and 40 troops – were killed.
He added that the investigation was just beginning into how the separatists brought down the plane, but initial reports indicated that three “Stinger-like” missiles were used.
The incident came less than a week after pro-Russia rebels launched a series of attacks on Ukrainian forces at Luhansk International Airport.
The airport has been under the control of government forces but the rebels hold most of the rest of the city.
Luhansk is the main city of one of two eastern regions where pro-Russia separatists have declared independence from Kiev.
The “anti-terrorist operation” by Ukraine government forces has left at least 270 people dead over the past two months.
Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko had said that fighting must end “this week” following his inauguration in Kiev last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the US said it was confident that tanks being used by separatists in eastern Ukraine came from Russia.
“Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area,” a US state department spokeswoman said.
“We are confident that these tanks came from Russia,” she added.
The appearance of the tanks, filmed in various towns in the Donetsk region, sparked a row between Kiev and Moscow.
Russia has denied allegations that the tanks had entered Ukraine from its territory.
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