KIEV, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – Twelve Ukrainian servicemen, including a general, were killed when a helicopter was shot down in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk on Thursday, the country's National Guard said, correcting the number of victims previously given by acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.
"As a result of the incident, 12 people – six soldiers of Ukraine's National Guard, including the helicopter crew, and six representatives of Berkut special police division. One of the Ukrainian National Guard soldier survived, but remains in critical condition," the official statement said.
Among those killed was an army general, the statement added.
Turchynov earlier said all 14 people on board the plane had died.
A RIA Novosti witness said two military helicopters, shooting at federalist forces, were downed by return fire, presumably using an anti-aircraft machine gun.
“A helicopter had been flying over the houses then the gunfire was heard and it began to smoke and fell down. It’s lying on the ground and burning now. We cannot approach it because there is shooting there,” a resident of the Chervony Molochar village told RIA Novosti.
The second helicopter fell down near the village of Andriivka.
The news coincided with a report by Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency that the active phase of the military operation in Slaviansk and Kramatorsk has been put on hold.
Pro-federalization protests have swept across Ukraine’s southeastern regions in response to the ouster of country’s legitimate president Viktor Yanukovych in February.
In mid-April, Ukraine’s interim government launched a special operation to crack down on federalists, but failed to gain control over the self-proclaimed independent republics in the eastern part of country. Moscow has described the operation as a punitive act.