London: At least 15 people were killed Thursday when pro-Russian militants shot down an army helicopter in the eastern Ukrainian town of Sloviansk, outgoing President Alexander Turchynov said.

The helicopter was reportedly hit after it had dropped off troops at a military base during heavy fighting between the eastern towns of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, BBC reported.

Militants shot down two helicopters earlier this month killing a pilot and a serviceman.

The tension in Sloviansk escalated after Petro Poroshenko won Ukriane’s presidential election Sunday.

The militants said this attack was in response to the deaths of 100 rebels when the army Monday tried to seize the Donetsk airport from them.

The rebels Monday abducted four Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors in Sloviansk.

But the self-proclaimed leader of Sloviansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, announced Thursday that the four were safe and could be released soon.

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