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Official: Malaysia Flight Shot Down by 'Terrorists'

 
Posted Thursday, July 17th 2014 @ 10am

Russian news agencies have quoted witnesses as saying they saw a plane being hit by what they thought was a rocket today over Ukraine.

But both Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels are denying they fired a missile that brought down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane with 295 people aboard.

The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the wreckage site, which covers a wide area.

The wreckage is in a village that is currently under the control of pro-Russia separatists. It's seen severe fighting between separatists and government troops in recent days.

Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to today's crash.

Within hours, several airlines, including Lufthansa and KLM, released statements today saying they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.

Malaysia Airlines confirms that it lost contact with a plane that was flying in Ukrainian airspace.

The Malaysian passenger airliner had nearly 300 people on board and was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

An adviser says the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit by a missile from a type of launcher that was seen by journalists yesterday near a town in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's Interior Minister is reportedly claiming that the passenger jet was downed by a Buk missile fired by separatists. Anton Geraschenko, adviser to Ukraine's minister of internal affairs says the plane was shot down by "terrorists," according to CNN.

The tracked surface-to-air missile system was developed by the former Soviet Union, and is much beefier than shoulder-mounted Stinger missiles.

Russian arms have been slowly infiltrating Ukrainian territory after Ukraine's pro-Russian president was ousted in favor of a government that's friendlier with the West.

Separatist rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk are denying they're responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane.

Ukraine's security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that they said showed rebels were responsible for downing a Malaysian airliner.

In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane Thursday.

In the second, two rebel fighters -- one of them at the scene of the crash -- say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 15 miles north of the crash site.

Neither recording could be independently verified.

Preliminary reports indicate all onboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 may have been killed. Those reports have not been confirmed. Fifteen crew members and 280 passengers were onboard.

Reuters is reporting that 23 Americans were on the flight. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki says the U.S. is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine. Psaki did not confirm reports that a number of U.S. citizens were aboard the plane.  

Stay tuned to NewsRadio KFBK and KFBK.com for updates on this developing story. 

 

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