Dozens killed in Kazakhstan air disaster

A military aircraft has crashed in the south of Kazakhstan, killing at least 27 people, mostly border guards, officials say.

The central Asian country's Committee for National Security, known by its Kazakh acronym KNB, said the Anatov-72 crashed on Tuesday at 12:55 GMT, about 20km away from the city of Shymkent near the border with Uzbekistan.

The plane had departed from the capital Astana.

In a statement, the KNB said that Colonel Turganbek Stambekov, the acting head of the ex-Soviet country's national border protection service, was aboard the plane.

The fatalities included a crew of seven and 20 border guards, the KNB said.

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

"The emergency services are working at the scene of the incident. An investigation is in progress," the KNB said, without giving more details.