LUHANSK, Ukraine, June 14 (UPI) --
A Ukrainian military plane was shot down by alleged pro-Russian separatists Saturday, killing all 49 people on board the aircraft, Ukrainian military officials said.
In what could be the single bloodiest event in Ukraine since in-fighting was sparked earlier this year, the Ilyushin-76 military transport plane was shot down during its approach at an airport in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said.
Ukraine's defense ministry said the plane was shot down by anti-aircraft machine guns used by insurgents.
The incident came just one day after NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the presence of Russian tanks and weapons inside Ukraine "would make a serious escalation of the crisis."
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging the halt of weapons across the Ukrainian-Russian border.
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