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You're reading: Kazakhstan military plane crashes, killing twenty seven

MOSCOW (AP) — Kazakhstan's acting border service chief was among 27 people killed in a military plane crash Tuesday near a southern city, authorities said.

The An-72 crashed at 1255
GMT (7:55 a.m. EST) about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the city
of Shymkent near the border with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan’s Committee for National Security said in a statement.

The
fatalities included a crew of seven and 20 border guards, including the
acting head of the ex-Soviet nation’s border protection service, Col.
Turganbek Stambekov, the statement said. Without specifying further
details, authorities said an investigation was opened into the crash.

Stambekov
was appointed acting head of the border service in June, after a mass
killing of 14 frontier troops in a remote Kazakh outpost near China the
month before. Vladislav Chelakh, a 20-year-old conscript, was sentenced
earlier this month to life in prison after being found solely
responsible for the killings.

The border service has come under close scrutiny in Kazakhstan
since the killings, which many argued showed the lack of readiness and
professionalism among serving troops. Legislation approved Thursday by
the upper house of parliament and supported by Stambekov was designed to
improve the process for selecting conscripts for the service.

The Kazakh-Uzbek border stretches 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles) of Central Asian steppes and deserts.

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