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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Malaysian airliner brought down in eastern Ukraine killing all 295 onboard

Pro-Russian rebels may have shot down the plane

Share on Facebook July 17, 2014, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 607

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KIEV, Ukraine - A Malaysian airliner was brought down over eastern Ukraine Thursday, killing all 295 on board, as the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels accused each other of having shot down the plane.

The passenger plane crashed near a rebel-held village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk government said. The region has seen heavy fighting between the two sides in recent days.

According to Reuters, its journalists saw burning and charred wreckage bearing the red and blue Malaysia Airlines insignia and dozens of bodies strewn in fields near the village of Grabovo, 40 km from the Russian border near the rebel-held regional capital of Donetsk.

Malaysia Airlines said air traffic controllers lost contact with flight MH-17 at 1415 GMT as it flew over eastern Ukraine towards the Russian border. It was bound for Asia with 280 passengers and 15 crew, and was at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it disappeared.

Ukraine's Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko has termed the downing of the plane an act of terrorism and said an international investigation should be held into the crash. "MH-17 is not an incident or catastrophe, it is a terrorist attack," Poroshenko tweeted.

Poroshenko said his country's armed forces didn't shoot at any airborne targets.

"We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets," he said. "We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible."

Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko said in a Facebook post: "Just now, over Torez, terrorists using a Buk anti-aircraft system kindly given to them by Putin have shot down a civilian airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur."

A pro-Russian rebel leader said Ukrainian forces shot the airliner down and that the rebel forces did not have weaponry capable of hitting a plane flying at such high altitude - 10 km.

But Ukrainian officials have said their military was not involved in the incident.

Both sides have been shooting down planes belonging to each other in the last few weeks as Poroshenko stepped up a military campaign against the rebels last month.

Amid the conflicting claims, the Donetsk People's Republic rebel group said it would turn over the recovered flight recorders to "high-class experts" in Moscow to determine the cause of the crash, "though it seems obvious enough anyway," Russian state media Russia Today reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Thursday to express his "deep condolences".

The Kremlin said Putin and President Barack Obama have discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident over eastern Ukraine.

Malaysian Prime Minister Razak said he is launching an "immediate investigation" into the crash. The Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said on twitter that there is no confirmation that the plane was shot down. He said he has instructed the country's military to check and get confirmation.

The White House has said it was trying to confirm a report that 23 U.S. citizens were among the dead, according to Reuters.

According to an emergency worker, around 100 bodies had been found so far and that the debris was spread over 15 km. Workers were scouring the area for the black box flight recorders.

In a twist to the controversy over which side shot down the plane, the military commander of the rebels, a Russian named Igor Strelkov, had written on his social media page at 1337 GMT, half an hour before the last reported contact with MH-17, that his forces had brought down an Antonov An-26 in the same area. It is a turboprop transport plane of a type used by Ukraine's forces.

It is being suggested that the separatists could have shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane by mistake, believing it was a large Ukrainian army transport plane.

The loss of the MH-17 comes four months after the mysterious disappearance of another Malaysia Airlines plane, flight MH-370, which disappeared in March with 239 passengers and crew on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

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