Ukraine says helicopter hit on ground near Slaviansk

by Reuters
Friday, 25 April 2014 09:54 GMT

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine, April 25 (Reuters) - A Ukrainian military helicopter was hit by gunfire while on the ground on Friday at an airfield near the rebel-held eastern city of Slaviansk and caught fire, wounding the pilot, security and military officials said.

Vasyl Krutov, the head of the government's joint operations Anti-Terrorism Centre (ATC), told a news conference in Kiev that a sniper bullet hit the fuel tank of the Mi-8 transport aircraft at Kramatorsk, causing an explosion. The pilot was injured.

A Reuters correspondent saw thick black smoke rising over the airfield and Ukrainian troops were barring access. A soldier said the helicopter had caught fire while on the ground. Local residents said they had heard shooting and three explosions. (Reporting by Thomas Grove in Kramatorsk, Ukraine and Sergei Karazy, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Richard Balmforth)