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Ukraine Vows to Punish Rebels Who Downed Plane

NOVOHANNIVKA, Ukraine — Ukraine's new president declared Sunday a day of mourning and vowed to punish those responsible after pro-Russia separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing all 49 crew and troops aboard.

The downing of the plane drew condemnation and concern from the White House, European leaders and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke firmly to glum-faced security officials at a televised emergency meeting Saturday, scolding the head of the country's SBU security service for "omissions" in measures to protect military aircraft.

Poroshenko called for "a detailed analysis of the reasons" for the lapse and hinted that personnel changes were imminent. His office said he vowed to punish "those responsible for the tragedy in Luhansk."

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Nine crew and 40 troops were aboard the Il-76 troop transport when it went down early Saturday as it approached the airport at Luhansk, the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said.

In other fighting, five border guards were killed and seven wounded Saturday in the southern port of Mariupol when their column of vehicles was ambushed, the guards service said.

The U.S. government reiterated its support for Poroshenko's government and rejected Russia's statements that it was not arming the rebels. The U.S. said Russia had sent tanks and rocket launchers to the rebels.

Russia denies supplying the separatists and says Russians fighting in Ukraine are volunteers.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated in February after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office by protesters who wanted closer ties with the European Union and an end to the country's endemic corruption. Russia then seized and annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

Also in Kiev, about a hundred protesters hurled eggs and paint Saturday at the Russian Embassy and overturned several parked cars with diplomatic plates. One held a sign saying "Russia is a killer."

— The Associated Press

Image: People flip a car over during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev
People flip a car over during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14. Some 300 people overturned vehicles of the embassy staff, teared down the Russian flag from the flagpole and threw eggs at the building in protest after pro-Russian rebels killed 49 Ukrainian troops by downing a military plane in the deadliest attack against federal forces in the two-month insurgency. SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP - Getty Images