International probe demanded after Malaysian airliner downed over Ukraine, 298 dead

International probe demanded after Malaysian airliner downed over Ukraine, 298 dead

Fri 18 Jul 2014 at 12:04

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NNA – World leaders demanded an international investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board over eastern Ukraine, as Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for a tragedy that stoked tensions between Russia and the West, Reuters reported.

One U.S. official said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.

There were no survivors from Thursday’s crash, which left wreckage and bodies scattered across miles of rebel-held territory.

The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea a month later.

The United States called for an immediate ceasefire to allow easy access to the crash site, while pro-Russian separatists told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a security and rights body, they would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the scene.

The plane crashed about 40 km (25 miles) from the border with Russia near the regional capital of Donetsk, an area that is a stronghold of rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian government forces.

Leaders of the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic denied any involvement and said a Ukrainian air force jet had brought down the intercontinental flight. Reuters journalists saw burning and charred wreckage bearing the red and blue Malaysia Airlines insignia and dozens of bodies in fields near the village of Hrabove.

“While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fuelled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said it appeared the downing of the jetliner was
not an accident and that it apparently was “blown out of the sky”.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott appeared to go further than other Western leaders in apportioning blame, demanding on Friday that Moscow answer questions about the “Russian-backed rebels” that he said were behind the disaster.

More than 20 Australians were among the many nationalities aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The Netherlands was the worst affected, with 154 Dutch citizens on the downed plane.

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