All 27 people on board a Kazakh military jet that crashed while carrying the Central Asian state's top border guard officials have died, the state security service said yesterday.
The victims included the acting head of the Kazakh federal border service Turganbek Stambekov and his wife.
The 22-year-old plane crashed late on Tuesday about 20 kilometres from Shymkent airport, where it had been due to land after a flight from the capital, Astana.
Kazakhstan's KTK television said the jet fell from a height of 800 metres. Witnesses also reported hearing a loud explosion at the time of the crash.
Footage of the crash site aired yesterday showed only fragments of the transport plane remaining on the ground. The security service insisted the plane had recently undergone all the necessary checks and repairs.
Kazakh official sealed off the site of the disaster as they launched a probe into one of the most serious air accidents in the country's post-Soviet history.
The security service said the senior security team, which also included the heads of the regional border guard services, had been flying to an end-of-year security meeting in Shymkent.
Aviation disasters remain a scourge across the former Soviet Union due to ageing hardware that often has not been replaced since the fall of the Soviet regime, as well as human error.