At least 14 people, including a general, were killed Thursday when a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down by “terrorists” near Slovyansk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament.
Turchynov said the chopper, which was carrying soldiers for a troop rotation, was shot down using a Russian rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Militants in the rebel stronghold claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, a spokesman for the militants said. The aircraft had flown there from Kramatorsk, he said, where the Ukrainian military has a substantial presence.
The large loss of life will be a major blow to the Ukrainian military, which on Monday toughened its approach to the separatist movement when it launched a fierce assault on militants who’d taken control of part of Donetsk airport.
Also in Slovyansk, the self-declared mayor told CNN that pro-Russia separatist militants are holding four European observers who have been missing since Monday.
But he declined to say where exactly. CNN