A Ukrainian military plane was shot down by rebels using an anti-aircraft missile Saturday, killing all 49 personnel on board and providing further evidence of an increasingly well-armed, pro-Russian rebellion.
Nine crew and 40 troops were aboard the plane when it went down on approach to an airport in the city of Luhansk, the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said in a statement. On Saturday, armed separatists were seen inspecting the scorched wreckage in a field 12 miles south of Luhansk.
The incident is the latest that has raised concerns among Ukrainians and Western leaders about how rebels are gaining access to military equipment. Ukraine on Friday accused Russia of permitting three tanks to cross the border into east Ukraine to be used by rebels.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department said it was “confident” that Russia was supplying military aid to the rebels.
“We assess that separatists in eastern Ukraine have acquired heavy weapons and military equipment from Russia, including Russian tanks and multiple rocket launchers,” Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement.