Ukraine says four members of downed plane crew rescued

People pose on July 14, 2014 while standing on the wreckage of a Ukrainian AN-26 military transport plane after it was shot down by a missile in the village of Davydo-Mykilske, east of Lougansk near the Russian border. The Ukrainian military sai
People pose on July 14, 2014 while standing on the wreckage of a Ukrainian AN-26 military transport plane after it was shot down by a missile in the village of Davydo-Mykilske, east of Lougansk near the Russian border. The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, it had rescued four crew members of a transport plane shot down over rebel territory, while two more were being held by insurgents and another two still missing. -- PHOTO: AFP

KIEV (AFP) - The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday it had rescued four crew members of a transport plane shot down over rebel territory, while two more were being held by insurgents and another two still missing.

"Four of the eight crew members of the AN-26 plane were found and brought to a safe area after a search-and-rescue mission," the Ukrainian military said in a statement after Monday's incident.

Operations were under way to free two crew members held by separatist fighters and to find out what had happened to another two servicemen on board.

The downing of the plane in the eastern Lugansk region saw tensions spiral between Kiev and Moscow after Ukraine said the missile that hit the plane "likely" came from Russia.

An AFP team found the wreckage of the plane strewn across a field close to the Russian border and saw what looked like charred human remains among the debris.

Witnesses said they had seen a number of parachutes in the sky after the plane appeared to be hit by a missile.

The downing of the aircraft comes after a military plane was shot down last month killing all 49 people on board, and is the latest in a string of air losses sustained by Ukrainian forces during the three-month pro-Russian rebellion.