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27 killed in Kazakh military plane crash


The remains of a military transport plane that crashed near Shymkent on December 25, 2012 are seen in this still image from a video.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A military transport plane crashed in southern Kazakhstan on Tuesday, killing all 27 people on board, including the country's acting border service chief.

The Russian-made An-72 crashed about 7 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) about 12 miles from the city of Shymkent near the border with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan's Committee for National Security said in a statement.

"The plane has burned up. Only some of its fragments remain," the news agency RIA quoted the head of the regional emergencies department as saying.

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Without specifying further details, authorities said an investigation was opened into the crash. No cause was given, but southern Kazakhstan over recent weeks has been buffeted by winds, heavy snows and low temperatures, causing widespread flight delays.

An eyewitness said he heard a loud explosion and saw flames at the crash site, the station reported.

The plane was carrying a crew of seven as well as 20 servicemen.

Kazakhstan's acting border service chief, Turganbek Stambekov, was appointed in June, after a mass killing of 14 frontier troops in a remote Kazakh outpost near China the month before.

The Kazakh-Uzbek border stretches across 1,350 miles of Central Asian steppes and deserts.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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