KIEV: Pro-Russian separatists shot down an army transport plane in east Ukraine yesterday, killing 49 servicemen and dealing a blow to a military campaign to defeat the rebels and hold the country together.
President Petro Poroshenko promised an “adequate” response after the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile as it came in to land at the airport outside the city of Luhansk, a centre of the rebellion against central rule that began in April.
“All those involved in cynical acts of terrorism of this magnitude must be punished,” he said, declaring today a day of mourning for the nine crew and 40 paratroopers killed. He later consulted with his security and defence chiefs.
Charred debris was scattered for hundreds of metres over the sloping wheat field where the plane came down overnight near Novohannivka, a village 20km southeast of Luhansk. The tail section jutted up from the ground, with pieces of the engines, fuselage and other parts lying around it.
The incident is likely to fuel tension between Russia and Kiev’s main ally, the United States, which accuses Moscow of arming the rebels. AFP