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KIEV, April 25. /ITAR-TASS/. A Mi-8 transport helicopter exploded on Friday at an airport in the city of Kramatorsk, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk Region, Dmytro Tymchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Military and Political Studies Institute, told journalists.
Tymchuk added that no one was reported wounded in the incident, but did not give any more details on the explosion.
However, Vasily Krutov, the head of the anti-terrorism department with the Ukrainian Security Service, said the captain of the helicopter’s crew was wounded in the explosion, adding that the blast was caused by a single gunshot, fired by an unidentified sniper.
“A sole sniper shot was delivered at the helicopter, which had been idling at the Kramatorsk airport,” he said. “The shot hit the fuel tank and the explosion followed.”
Local media reported earlier, that at least two blasts were heard from the Kramatorsk airport, where plumes of smoke rise in the air.
More than a week ago, the Kramatorsk airport was seized and came under control of the Ukrainian military, but the city is still controlled by local self-defense units.
Protests against the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, who came to power as a result of a coup in February, erupted in early April in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern territories, in particular, in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, with demonstrators demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.
Last week Ukrainian parliament-appointed Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in the Donetsk region in an apparent effort to put an end to protests of federalization supporters.
The events came after the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, reunified with Russia on March 18 following a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.