Separatists in eastern Ukraine’s besieged city of Slovyansk have shot down a Ukrainian Army plane today, destroying it and forcing the two crew members to parachute away.
Slovyansk mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov reported watching the anti-aircraft missile hit the plane with other people in the center of town, and said there was applause when the strike occurred.
Rebels identified the plane as an Antonov AN-30 surveillance plane, while military leaders insisted it was an AN-26 supply plane carrying “humanitarian aid.” The videos of the shootdown make it difficult to tell which is which, but there had been no previous indication of any humanitarian aid being sent into the restive east, which the interim government has declared held by “terrorists.”
Rebel fighters also attacked a military checkpoint on the outskirts of Slovyansk today, firing mortars at the troops there. The Ukrainian National Guard confirmed “dead and wounded,” but no specific numbers.
Earlier this week, military forces invaded Slovyansk, and at one point the military claimed over 300 rebels were killed and 500 wounded in a period of 24 hours. The toll has not been corroborated by anyone inside Slovyansk, and the mayor put the toll at 12 killed and a few dozens wounded.