Kazakhstan military plane crash kills 27 near Shymkent

The Antonov An-72 plane went down in bad weather about 12 miles from Shymkent

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A military plane carrying senior Kazakh security officials has crashed in the south of the country, killing all those on board.

Officials said 27 people were on the flight, including border service officers and their acting head, Turganbek Stambekov.

The plane went down near the city of Shymkent and was completely destroyed.

The plane disappeared from radar just before 19:00 local time (13:00 GMT), KTK TV said.

It was making its descent near Shymkent, which is the main Kazakh city in the south, some 75 miles (120km) north of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

Eyewitnesses told KTK that the plane fell from a height of 800m (2,600ft), causing a loud explosion.

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A resident identified as Baurzhan Dosov described a big fire, adding that military hats were strewn around the crash site.

The plane went down 12 miles (20km) from Shymkent aiport in what correspondents told KTK was very bad weather.

"There was no need for rescuers' help. Only fragments remain," the head of Kazakhstan's regional emergencies department, Valikhan Derezhepov, told Ria news agency.

Seven crew and 20 military personnel were on board the military transport plane, Kazakhstan's Committee for National Security said in a statement.

Interfax-Kazakhstan said that one of Col Stambekov's deputies and several regional border service commanders were also on the flight, from the Kazakh capital, Astana, to Shymkent.

Col Stambekov was made acting head of the service in June, weeks after 14 border troops were found dead at a burnt-out border post near Kazakhstan's southern frontier with China. The incident prompted his predecessor to resign.

Another border guard was jailed for life for his alleged role in the incident at the Arkankergen post near Almaty, after he had reportedly confessed to the authorities.

He later said he had been forced into making the confession.

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