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Ukraine rebels down helicopter, 14 killed

Kiev -

Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a military helicopter on Thursday, killing 14 troops including an army general, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told a session of parliament.

Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine. Picture: Alexander Zemlianichenko. Credit: AP

“I just received information that near Slavyansk, the terrorists - using a Russian man-portable air defence system - shot down our helicopter,” Turchynov said. “Fourteen of our servicemen died, including General Volodymyr Kulchytskiy.”

A separatist spokesman had earlier told Russian news agencies that the militants had downed a Ukrainian army helicopter in a fierce battle that was still raging on the southern outskirts of the rebel-controlled city.

The unnamed spokesman said that “as a result of active military activities, several houses belonging to civilians caught fire”.

The death toll is one of the highest suffered by Ukrainian forces since the separatist insurgency first erupted in eastern Ukraine in early April. - Sapa-AFP

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