Separatists Shoot down Military Plane in Ukraine Killing 49 People
Ukraine: 49 dead in latest unrest
(Vatican Radio) Ukraine's new President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to retaliate after pro-Russia separatists shot down a military plane in the east, killing 49 people. He spoke shortly after he himself narrowly survived an apparent assassination attempt.
Huge flames lighting up the skies near the city of Luhansk and burning wreckage in a farm field is all that is left of a massive IL-76 military transport plane.
Well-armed Pro-Russian separatists shot down the Ukrainian army's aircraft while it approached the Luhansk airport, killing crew and 40 troops aboard, officials said.
On Sunday, Ukraine will hold a day of mourning. But it will do little to heal the wounds in an increasingly volatile nation.
Even President Poroshenko was threatened with death. Well-informed sources say his bodyguards disposed of a powerful explosive device, including five grenades and a kilogram of metal nuts discovered near the president's headquarters.
The incidents come as another setback for Ukrainian troops who are battling pro-Russian separatists in the east.
Fighting involving Ukrainian special forces and national guard units has even continued in Mariupol, despite government claims it had retaken the port city on Friday, and elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko has also expressed concern about Russian tanks entering Ukraine, explained European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
"He conveyed to me his extreme concern with ongoing armed unrest in eastern Ukraine and also today’s incident with Russian tanks that according to Ukrainian authorities have crossed today the Ukrainian border," he told reporters.
Russia denies supplying the rebels but the NATO military alliance says recent Russian tank movements near the border have "raised significant questions" on Russia's role.
Ukrainian forces have claimed at least a small victory since Friday. They were seen showing some 32 alleged pro-Russian separatist prisoners, but it remained unclear how they would treat them in what has become an increasingly bloody battle for control over Ukraine's troubled east.
Before Saturday's fighting, the Ukrainian health ministry had said at least 270 people had died in clashes between government forces and armed separatists.