Ukraine: Separatists Shot Down Plane Carrying AIDS Conference Attendees

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine is accusing pro-Russian separatists of shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet Thursday. The rebels are denying it.

Ukraine's security services say two intercepted telephone conversations show the rebels were responsible, though neither recording could be independently verified. Ukraine's U.N. ambassador alleges that Russia has supplied the separatists with a sophisticated missile system that can hit planes.

But, Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility, saying: “this tragedy would not have happened if there were peace” in Ukraine and military actions had not been renewed.

Bodies and wreckage of the Boeing 777 were strewn over a field near a rebel-held village in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border. There was no sign of any survivors.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard, including three infants.

The White House is calling for a “full, credible and unimpeded international investigation.” It's also urging Russia, the pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure “safe and unfettered access to the crash site.”

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SYDNEY (AP) — Several passengers on board a Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine were heading to an international AIDS conference in Australia.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Friday that several people on board the Boeing 777 were en route to Melbourne to attend next week's conference.

The International AIDS Society issued a statement expressing “sincere sadness” that several of its colleagues and friends were on board the plane.

Bishop says at least 27 Australians were on board. The aircraft was scheduled to continue flying to the western Australian city of Perth after stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The plane crashed Thursday with 298 people on board. American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the aircraft down but it was not yet clear who fired the missile.

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KIEV, Ukraine (ABC News) - A surface-to-air missile struck a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people that went down today in Ukraine near the Russian border, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The official said U.S. intelligence and analysis of the situation determined that it was a single missile that struck the Boeing 777-200 aircraft while at cruising altitude. It is unclear whether the missile was fired from inside Ukrainian or Russian territory and who fired it, the official added.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur with 280 passengers and 15 crew members. It is not known if there were any Americans on board.

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HRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

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HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) - A Russian news agency has quoted a leader of eastern Ukraine's pro-Russia rebels as saying they intend to call a three-day cease fire to allow an investigation of the crash of a Malaysian airliner.

The RIA-Novosti agency on Thursday quoted rebel leader Alexander Borodai as saying discussions were underway with Ukrainian authorities on calling the short truce for humanitarian reasons.

He said international organizations would be allowed into the conflict-plagued region.

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MOSCOW (AP) - The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident over eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin website published a statement late Thursday that says “the Russian leader informed the U.S. president of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory, which had arrived immediately before the phone call.”

The statement gave no further details about what the leaders discussed with regard to the plane crash. The rest of the phone call was dedicated to the general situation in eastern Ukraine, and recent U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Separatist rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have denied that they are responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane.

Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister for the rebels, told The Associated Press the plane must have been shot down by Ukrainian government troops. He gave no proof for his statement, and Ukraine earlier denied shooting at any airborne targets.

A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over eastern Ukraine.

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's president says his country's armed forces did not shoot at any airborne targets, after reports that a Malaysian Airlines plane went down over Ukraine.

President Petro Poroshenko says Thursday “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.”

Poroshenko said “we are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.”

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Malaysian Airlines plane has apparently been shot down over eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian official says a passenger plane with 295 people aboard was shot down over a town in the country's east. And Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace.

An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet. He said it was hit by a missile fired by a type of launcher that can fire missiles as high as 72,000 feet.

The government in the Donetsk region of Ukraine says the plane crashed near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists.

The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and the separatists in recent days.

Yesterday evening, Ukrainian officials say, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane. It adds to what Ukraine says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

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Update: KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine president: ‘Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets'

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Update: KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysian prime minister says he is launching immediate probe into reported jetliner crash.

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — An adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister says a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people has been shot down over a town in the east of the country.

Anton Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

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