Militants Down Ukraine Copter, Kill General

Meanwhile, separatists confirm they're holding EU observers captive
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2014 7:05 AM CDT
Militants Down Ukraine Copter, Kill General
Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, May 29, 2014.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a government military helicopter today amid heavy fighting around the city of Slovyansk, killing 14 soldiers including a general, Ukraine's leader said. The separatists used a portable air defense missile to down the chopper, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told the parliament. An AP reporter saw the helicopter go down and the trail of black smoke it left before crashing. Gunshots were heard around Slovyansk near the crash site and a Ukrainian air force jet was seen circling above. It was too dangerous to visit the site itself.

The self-proclaimed "people's mayor" of Slovyansk also confirmed today that separatists are holding four missing observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Vyacheslav Ponomarev said he'd warned the OSCE "that their people should not over the coming week travel in areas under our control. And they decided to show up anyway. We will deal with this and then release them," he said, without setting a specific timeframe. The OSCE had lost contact with the team in Donetsk on Monday evening. (More Ukraine stories.)

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