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Ukrainian forces open artillery fire on Slavyansk

June 14, 2014, 18:32 UTC+3 14 14/6

Shells hit several buildings near the hospital

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SLAVYANSK, June 14 (ITAR-TASS). Ukrainian armed forces opened artillery fire on central Slavyansk, the Donetsk region, a local militia source told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

An area near a hospital was under fire. Shells hit several buildings near the hospital, the source said.

According to reports not confirmed yet, several shells hit a school.

Meanwhile, defenders (militia) in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic launched a counteroffensive to free the town of Schastye ("happiness") earlier seized by Ukrainian forces, the press service of the republic said on Saturday.

According to earlier reports, a column of armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was moving toward Lugansk from Schastye. "Preparations are underway to defend the city," one of the republic's leaders said. There was no information about the strength of the Ukrainian force that was on the way to Lugansk.

A militia source said that defenders had to retreat to Lugansk during the assault against Schastye, when Kiev's forces used combat helicopters. The defenders regrouped. Militia sources also said Ukrainian troops lost eight people in fighting near Schastye.

One of militiamen also said that when they retreated under the assault of Ukrainian armoured forces, members of the Ukrainian National Guards shot dead six-seven wounded militiamen.

The press service of the Donetsk People's Republic told Itar-Tass that defenders shot down a Su-24 bomber of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Gorlovka, the Donetsk region.

Two Su-24s attacked the police department building in Gorlovka with cluster bombs. One of the planes was shot down from a portable antiaircraft gun, a source said. The plane fell outside the city. The pilot bailed out. Groups of defenders went to search for the pilot.

The shelling of the police building, the headquarters of the local militia (self defence force), killed one and injured five people. One of them is in heavy condition.

A military transport plane with 49 people on board was shot down at Lugansk airport overnight.

"About 01:10 on June 14, 2014, when landing at Lugansk airport, an Il-76 military transport plane of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was downed by a shot from an antiaircraft missile system. On board the plane, aside from nine crewmembers, were 40 servicemen. All died," the press service of the prosecutor's office said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared mourning for June 15 over the crash of the Ilyushin-76 military transport plane at Lugansk airport.

The president also ordered to call a meeting of the Council of National Security and Defence in connection with the latest developments in the east of the country.

"I declare Sunday a day of mourning for our military. It is a heavy loss not only for the families, but for the entire country," he said in a statement on his website.

Poroshenko ordered the Council of National Security and Defence to meet and pledged to give an adequate response in connection with the latest developments in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Defence Ministry earlier confirmed that an Il-76 plane with servicemen, equipment and food on board was shot down at Lugansk airport overnight. Later, the Ukrainian prosecutor's office confirmed that 49 servicemen died in the crash.

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