Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared Sunday a day of mourning and vowed to punish those responsible for shooting down a military plane in the eastern part of the country.
On Saturday, Poroshenko ordered a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council to be convened due to the deadly events near the eastern city of Lugansk.
“Ukraine needs peace. However, the terrorists will receive an adequate response,” Poroshenko said, adding that their “cynical acts of terrorism must be punished.”
Armed men in the Lugansk region downed an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane near the Lugansk airport early Saturday morning.
All 49 military personnel on board have been killed, most of whom were airborne paratroopers.
Meanwhile, pro-Russians in the Lugansk region have confirmed they hit the plane.
Pro-Russia forces in the nearby Donetsk Province also claimed to have brought down a SU-25 army airplane, adding that the pilot has been captured.
Meanwhile, pro-Russia forces in Lugansk are taking positions and preparing for an assault by Ukrainian forces.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia protesters and the Ukrainian army since Kiev’s operation started in mid-April.
The violence intensified after the Donetsk and Lugansk regions declared independence from Ukraine on May 12 following referendums, in which the regions’ residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Kiev. The vote was called illegal by Ukrainian authorities.
The government in Kiev says it is targeting armed protesters, but many civilians have been caught in the shelling that has been going on for days.
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