UK & World News
Ukraine Helicopter Shot Down Over Slavyansk
A Ukrainian helicopter has been shot down over the pro-Russian stronghold of Slavyansk as the security situation in the country continues to worsen.
Ukraine's defence ministry said the pilots survived. Elsewhere in the east of the country four paramilitary policemen were shot dead in fighting.
A number of other rebels and civilians are also thought to have been killed or injured, according to Sky's Stuart Ramsay, who is in eastern Ukraine.
The helicopter, an Mi-24, came under fire from a heavy machine gun and crashed into a river.
The defence ministry said the crew were evacuated to a nearby camp but did not give details about their condition.
At least three other helicopters have been shot down by pro-Russian rebels in the violence that is increasing in eastern parts of the country.
Pictures shot by news wires on Monday showed pro-Russia rebels carrying rocket launchers and rocket propelled grenades.
The four Ukrainian security personnel who died were killed in fighting near Slavyansk that also injured 30 others, the interior ministry said.
Ukraine's government said the dead men were ambushed by separatist rebels on the outskirts of the city but other reports said they were involved in operations to clear checkpoints from surrounding roads.
Stuart Ramsay said: "The fighting was very intense this morning. It was described as an ambush but we understand it was part of the Ukraine government's attempts to take out a ring of checkpoints."
The fighting has been intensifying since the Ukrainian forces began an operation nearly two weeks ago to remove the rebels from their strongholds in a number of eastern towns and cities.
Reuters reported that cars were seen ferrying wounded people from the sites of clashes on the separatist side but there were no casualty figures. One civilian woman in Slavyansk was reported to have been hit in the head by a bullet.†
Pictures also showed the funeral of a 21-year-old nurse Yulia Izotova in the nearby city of†Kramatorsk. She was said to have been killed in fighting in the surrounding area in the days before.
Meanwhile the Interior Minister drafted a new special forces unit into the southern-western port city of Odessa to tackle pro-Russian separatists there after a weekend of violence that left dozens dead.
The violence in Odessa, an ethnically mixed city way away from the towns hit by fighting in the east, was seen as a turning point in Kiev, encroaching for the first time beyond Russian-speaking areas.
Hours of clashes between pro-Russia activists on the streets of the one million-strong city ended when the protesters withdrew to a building that later burnt down with the loss of over 40 lives - bloodshed that Moscow blamed on Kiev.