Ukrainian fighter plane shot down by separatist rebels

The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place.

FILE: Pro-Russian militant stand guard in front of the occupied Ukraine Security Service building in Slovyansk, Ukraine. Picture: AFP.

KIEV - Pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian Mig-29 fighter jet in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine overnight, a military spokesperson said on Sunday.

The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place.

The rebels have also been accused of shooting down Malaysia Flight MH17 a month ago killing 298 people.

Further details about the incident or the condition of the pilot were not immediately available.

Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east.

The city of Luhansk is encircled by Ukrainian forces and is reportedly suffering from severe electrical outages and shortages of food and medicine. Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city, is also suffering through fighting including frequent shelling.

The latest fighting comes as a Russian aid convoy is waiting on the Ukrainian border for clearance to bring supplies to suffering civilians in the region. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which would have responsibility for distributing the aid, on Saturday said the main holdup was a lack of security guarantees from all sides in the conflict.