(CNN) — A Ukrainian military plane was shot down overnight Friday, killing all 49 people on board, a spokesman said. It is likely one of the bloodiest single events in that nation’s current period of turmoil.
The Ilyushin-76 military transport plane went down while approaching an airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, said military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov from the anti-terror operation unit.
In a statement, Ukraine’s defense ministry said the plane, which was transporting military personnel, was shot down by insurgents using anti-aircraft machine guns.
Video posted to YouTube claimed to show the plane being shot down. Small flashes can be seen climbing skyward, followed by large flashes on the ground on the distant horizon.
The plane was also carrying military machinery and supplies, the ministry said.
Hours before the plane went down, Ukraine’s Kiev-based government — which is trying to regain control of the country’s restive south and east — announced that an operation targeting pro-Russian separatists in the city of Mariupol had been successful.
Anton Geraschenko, adviser to acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, said more than 30 “terrorists” had been detained and their base destroyed. Other separatists are hiding in homes and basements for safety, he said. Four Ukrainian soldiers were injured in the operation, he said.
Residents of the southeastern port city may in the past have blocked Ukraine’s security forces, he said, but “today, not one resident of Mariupol protected terrorists.”… see more