A military aircraft carrying 27 people including top members of the Kazakhstan border guard service crashed Tuesday in the south of the country with all those on board feared dead, officials said.
The KNB security service said the An-72 military transport was carrying seven crew and 20 servicemen, including the acting head of the Kazakh border service Turganbek Stambekov.
The plane crashed 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Shymkent airport where it had been due to land after a flight from the capital Astana.
Kazakhstan's KTK television said that the plane fell from a height of 800 metres (2,600 feet) and the weather around the airport at the time was very poor.
Eyewitness Baurzhan Dosov whose home is near the crash area told state television that he heard a noise like an explosion and then witnessed a scene of carnage.
"There are military hats everywhere and pieces of human flesh. Just like meat. The fire is still blazing," he said.
A security source told the Interfax news agency that all those on board were killed and KTK also reported that according to its latest information there were no survivors.
But this was not confirmed in the KNB statement.
"The emergency services are working at the scene of the incident. An investigation is in progress," the KNB said, without giving more details.
The security source quoted by Interfax said that according to initial information there were no survivors.
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.
The Kazakh border guard service was already hit this year by tragedy with the killing of 14 of its servicemen in May at a border post in the remote Tian Shan mountains.
A border guard, Vladislav Chelakh, 20, was this month sentenced to life in prison for the killings but the defence argued he was being made a scapegoat for security failings higher up.