UPDATE: Leaders Demand Credible Investigation in Malaysian Plane Crash

By: AP
By: AP
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Seeking who shot down Malaysian plane, leaders demand credible investigation in Ukraine
ROZSYPNE, Ukraine (AP) -- World leaders are demanding that pro-Russia rebels who control the eastern Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 give immediate, unfettered access to independent investigators.
The first international investigators at the scene weren't given full access. The delegation, mostly from Europe, was allowed to make just a partial, superficial inspection, before being ordered to leave -- an order that was enforced with a warning shot from a rifle.
The monitors found the bodies of victims strewn on the ground in the crash area, which covers eight square miles between two villages near the Russian border.
U.S. officials say the plane, with 298 passengers and crew, was likely brought down by a ground-to-air missile.
The White House and the Kremlin are both calling for peace talks between Ukraine and the separatists. But heavy fighting was reported less than 60 miles from the crash site today, with an estimated 20 civilians reported killed.



US begins building case aimed at tying pro-Russian forces to plane shot down over Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States has begun building a case linking pro-Russian separatists to the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine.
President Barack Obama says the U.S. believes the Malaysia Airlines plane was felled by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area near the Ukraine-Russia border that is controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists. Obama cautioned that the exact circumstances are still being determined, but also said the insurgents would not be capable of carrying out such an attack without Russia's support.
The president spoke shortly after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined preliminary evidence against Russia and the separatists during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Samantha Power said separatists were spotted Thursday with an SA-11 anti-aircraft missile at a location close to the site where the plane came down and that they had boasted on social media sites about shooting down a plane, then later deleted those posts.
An American killed in the crash has been identified as Quinn Lucas Schansman. Officials are still working to confirm whether any other U.S. citizens were on board the plane.



WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. official says American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down a passenger jet carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, but the Obama administration is still scrambling to confirm who launched the strike and whether there were American citizens killed in the crash.
Vice President Joe Biden says the incident was "not an accident," describing the Malaysia Airlines plane as having been "blown out of the sky."
Among the unanswered questions is whether the missile was launched from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border they share. The official says U.S. intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely that pro-Russian separatists or Russians shot down the plane than Ukrainian forces.
The U.S. has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from a rocket engine.
UNITED NATIONS-UKRAINE-PLANE
AP Interview: Ukraine blames Russia for crash
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Ukraine's U.N. ambassador says the Malaysian airliner would not have crashed if Russia hadn't given pro-Russian separatists a sophisticated missile system that can hit planes.
Yuriy Sergeyev told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that Russia bears responsibility for the disaster, along with the separatists, whom he called "terrorists."
The ambassador says that in intercepted phone calls, separatists first thought the plane was a military aircraft. After they went to the site and discovered it was a civilian plane, he says, they responded like "animals" and said the aircraft should have been flying over eastern Ukraine.
The calls haven't been verified.
But, Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility for crash of Malaysian airliner. The Kremlin quotes Putin as telling a meeting of his economic advisers, "this tragedy would not have happened if there were peace" in Ukraine and military actions had not been renewed.
The plane carried 298 people.
Britain says the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Friday morning on Ukraine.
UKRAINE-PLANE-AIDS CONFERENCE
AIDS conference attendees on downed Malaysian jet
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.



MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladmir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility for the crash of a Malaysian airliner.

A Kremlin statement early Friday said Putin opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

Then, he said, "This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."


HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) -- 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 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the crash site.
Neither recording could be independently verified.
One of the fighters, who states he is at the site of where the plane came to the ground, describes seeing scattered debris. He later describes finding the documents of somebody he identifies as an Indonesian national studying at "Thompson University."


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.


GRABOVO, Ukraine (AP) -- An Associated Press journalist has counted at least 22 bodies at the plane wreckage site in eastern Ukraine involving a Malaysia Airlines commercial flight.

The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the wreck is scattered over a wide area in the eastern Ukraine village of Grabovo.

The field around the burning wreck was strewn with body parts and the belongings of the passengers Thursday.

Malaysia Airlines has said 295 people were aboard the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.


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.


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."


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A Ukrainian official said a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) when it was hit 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.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it "has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow."


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