UPDATE  — 1:30 a.m. ET: A government official told Reuters 49 troops were killed:

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says that pro-Russian separatists have shot down a large military transport plane in the country’s unsettled east and that service personnel aboard were killed.

The statement Saturday on the ministry’s website says that the plane was downed as it approached an airport at Lugansk. The statement did not say how many people were on board the Il-76 transport plane, which was carrying service members as well as equipment and food.

The statement said that the rebels “cynically and perfidiously” downed the plane using anti-aircraft guns and heavy caliber machine guns.

An Il-76 is a four-engine jet that can be used to transport heavy gear and people.

Other Must-Read Stories