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Ukraine says rebels shoot down fighter jet

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Kiev, Aug 17 (AP) - Separatist rebels in the east have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Sunday.

Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said that the plane was shot down over the Luhansk region after launching an attack on rebels. The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place, he said.

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.