Rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a government military helicopter on Thursday amid heavy fighting around Slovyansk, killing at least a dozen soldiers including a general. (May 29)
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Near Slovyansk, Ukraine 29 May, 2014
1. Wide of plume of smoke rising from downed helicopter
Rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a government military helicopter on Thursday amid heavy fighting around Slovyansk, killing at least a dozen soldiers including a general.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told the parliament in Kiev that rebels used a portable air defence missile to bring down the helicopter.
He said General Serhiy Kulchytskiy was among the dead, according to the Interfax news agency, which earlier gave the wrong first name for the general.
Slovyansk, 100 miles (160 kilometres) from the Russian border, has become the epicentre of fighting between pro-Russia insurgents and government forces in recent weeks.
Its residential areas have regularly come under mortar shelling from government forces, causing civilian casualties and prompting some residents to flee.
An Associated Press reporter saw the helicopter go down amid a trail of black smoke.
Gunshots were heard in Slovyansk near the crash site and a Ukrainian air force jet was seen circling above.
It was too dangerous to visit the site itself.
Turchynov said the helicopter was flying troops in for a rotation to a hill outside Slovyansk where Ukrainian forces have set up positions.
The Interfax news agency said Kulchytskiy had once served in the Soviet army and was in charge of combat training for Ukraine's National Guard.