Ukrainian armed forces on Tuesday launched a "special operation" against separatists in the town of Kramatorsk in the east of the country, Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying.

Local journalists quoted by Interfax said automatic firing could be heard from the direction of Kramatorsk's military airfield and said a fighter jet had swooped low over the area.

A correspondent of Espresso TV meanwhile said the Ukrainian plane had been trying to land but had not been able to do so because separatists had opened fire on it.

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