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Ukraine: Investigators start jet crash site search

Ambush Near MH17 Kills Ukrainian Soldiers

By MSTYSLAV CHERNOV and PETER LEONARD
Associated Press

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) -- With the sound of artillery blasts at a distance, dozens of international investigators arrived Friday at the eastern Ukraine site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed and began a painstaking search for the remains of as many as 80 victims.

Several hours before they arrived, at least 10 Ukrainian soldiers were killed when their convoy was ambushed by pro-Russian separatist rebels in a town close to the wreckage site. Thirteen more soldiers were unaccounted for after the attack, officials said, and the bodies of four more people were being examined to determine whether they were soldiers or rebels.


The investigators from the Netherlands and Australia, plus officials with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, traveled from the rebel-held city of Donetsk in 15 cars and a bus to the crash site outside the village of Hrabove.

As they set up a base to work from at a chicken farm, an Associated Press reporter heard artillery fire in the distance. It was impossible to tell how far away shells were landing and whether the Ukrainian army or rebel forces were firing.

The investigative team's top priority is to recover human remains that have been rotting in midsummer heat of 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) since the plane went down on July 17. They will also try to retrieve the belongings of the 298 people killed aboard the Boeing 777.

After they arrived, members of the team wearing gloves broke up into small groups and walked into fields of scrub. They placed items into blue plastic buckets, but it was impossible for journalists prevented from getting close to see what they had collected.

Other team members gathered around plane wreckage, taking photos of debris from the jet's fuselage and tail. Rebel fighters guarding the perimeter of the zone stayed away from the investigators and some patrolled the streets of the neighboring village of Rozspyne.

Ukraine and the West contend the plane was shot down by the rebels with a Russian-supplied missile. Rebel leaders publicly deny it, but one top rebel official has told the AP on condition of anonymity that insurgents were involved in the operation that downed the plane.

Friday's search effort came after a smaller advance investigative team managed to perform a preliminary survey of the area a day earlier. For days, clashes along routes to the wreckage site had kept investigators from reaching the site. Independent observers warned that there has been tampering with evidence.

The sprawling site of fields in between two villages is now designated a crime scene and was being divided into grids for systematic searches for remains, belongings and jet crash evidence, Australian police officer Brian McDonald told reporters in Hrabove. Specially trained dogs will be also be used in the search, McDonald said.

Ukranian rescue workers after the crash loaded 200 body bags of remains onto a train and 227 caskets were flown to the Netherlands. Dutch forensics officials are now identifying the remains and Australian's foreign minister has said as many as 80 bodies are still believed at the crash site.

The investigative team's journey in their convoy lasted about three hours from Donetsk, through the government-held town of Debaltseve, and back into the separatist-controlled territory, where the wreckage lies. At Debaltseve, the convoy was joined by three vehicles from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Both sides in the conflict tentatively agreed to a cease-fire around the crash zone, but the Friday morning attack by rebels on government troops took place less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the site, outside the town of Shakhtarsk. Ukrainian forces and rebels have been battling in that area for several days but the town is still in rebel hands.

Defense officials said that an army convoy was struck by mortars during redeployment.

Ukraine security spokesman Vladislav Seleznev said the attack took place at 6 a.m., before the end of the 24-hour "day of quiet" declared Thursday in response to a call for a cease-fire from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"The militants are behaving in a cowardly and shameless fashion," Seleznev said. "They used the `day of quiet' just to fire on us."

Another Ukraine defense spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said another 13 soldiers have been reported missing in action after the attack.

Seleznev said the bodies of another four people killed in the incident have not yet been identified.

Ukrainian forces in attempting to regain control of the area are trying to drive a wedge into an area between the largest rebel-controlled cities, Donetsk and Luhansk. Shakhtarsk lies on one of two highways linking those cities.

In Donetsk, meanwhile, one person was killed Friday and three others were wounded when mortar fire struck a minibus carrying passengers near the central train station, said city hall spokesman Maxim Rovensky.

The city government in Luhansk said five residents were killed and nine wounded after artillery shells rained down on them.

Officials in the two cities did not say who they believe was responsible for the shelling.

Ukraine has routinely accused Russia of supplying rebels with heavy weaponry and firing rockets onto Ukraine from its territory.

On Friday, Lysenko said that Russian military helicopters repeatedly crossed between 10 and 15 kilometers (6 and 9 miles) into Ukrainian airspace a day earlier.

Lysenko said the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense system reported another three incursions by aircraft flying at 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russian troops lobbed shells across the border at Ukrainian troops on at least four separate occasions on Wednesday and Thursday and that a convoy of armored vehicles and trucks carrying fighters crossed the border into Russia.

Russia has repeatedly denied firing into Ukrainian territory.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
buddwhyzr August 01 2014 at 1:06 PM

A travesty that the remains of so many still rot in the sun, while the goddam Russians keep shooting and pointing fingers.

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3 replies
Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 12:35 PM

Rebel fighters guarding the perimeter of the zone stayed away from the investigators and some patrolled the streets of the neighboring village of Rozspyne.

Even the American media admits the rebels are the ones protecting the investigators. By default, that means it is the Ukrainian military that keeps attacking the area preventing the investigation from continuing.

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2 replies
cptsujet Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 1:22 PM

Your quote does NOT support your assertion. They have prevented international inspectors this whole time while they molested the site.

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2 replies
Welcome Justin cptsujet August 01 2014 at 2:26 PM

You don't bother to read the articles, do you cptsujet ? This is the second article we have argued on, and both times, your fallacies are easily proven false by simply READING THE ARTICLE. Please at least read before proving how ignorant you are.

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Welcome Justin cptsujet August 01 2014 at 2:33 PM

Here cptsujet, since you are obviously to lazy to read. This is a direct excerpt from this very article.

Other team members gathered around plane wreckage, taking photos of debris from the jet's fuselage and tail. Rebel fighters guarding the perimeter of the zone stayed away from the investigators and some patrolled the streets of the neighboring village of Rozspyne.

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cptsujet Welcome Justin August 02 2014 at 10:27 AM

Maybe you should adjust your quotes then you dolt.

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lakota6020 August 01 2014 at 12:48 PM

The US refuses to help the Ukraine and then Obama turns around and sells high tech planes and equipment to Qatar, the backers of Hamas and other terrorist radicals. Look at where Obamas regime is taking us. He ignores the slaughter of Christians around the world and supplies the Palestinian Authority with billions. Wake up America... we are headed for a take down by our own government. The stats that we hear about in Gaza is given out by Hamas and yet people are buying their lies.

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2 replies
Welcome Justin lakota6020 August 01 2014 at 12:53 PM

The US and EU began this crisis in Ukraine by supporting the violent overthrow of a democratically elected gov. Now they are helping cover up what really happened to Flight 17. What more help would you want them to give ?

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2 replies
worldcommenter Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 2:03 PM

There was no violent overthrow of the Ukrainian Government! The people protested the abandonment of EU agreements and potential signing of Russian cusoms agreements. The President fled the country before being arrested and tried for embezzelment, extortion, abuse of power, among other charges. The Legislature, Parliament, Rada, was elected in October 2012 and is still the Legislative authority of Ukriane. The Judicial system of Ukraine is still intacted and has not been replaced. SO NO GOVERNMENT OVER THROUGH!

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Welcome Justin Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 2:30 PM

So, worldcommenter, you are honestly going to revise history and say several people were not killed when US supported protesters and radicals rioted against the gov ? It blows my mind so see how ignorant you dupes are; it's like talking to a bunch of kindergartners.

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Richard lakota6020 August 02 2014 at 5:37 AM

Justin President Viktor Yanukovych was peacefully impeached by parliament including members of his own party in accordance to the constitution. US and EU had nothing to do with that act. In response to being legally removed as president Victor fled to Russia to escape further prosecution for looting the treasury.

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Fred August 01 2014 at 11:13 PM

This is really bad, they robbed the corpse, stole their jewelry. credit cards and cell phones and left them to rot in the fields. Creeps.

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Richard C. August 01 2014 at 5:25 PM

It's shameful of what is going on in the Ukraine. Russia has only one intent, and that is let these well equpped Rebels (clearly most are NOT Soldier's, but unlawful, sociopathic gangs) to destroy more evidence, in the downing of this commercial air liner, and the killing of 289 innocent passagers. While the world sit idly by and lets more Ukraine Soldiers, be killed in their efforts to secure the crash site. And the investigators trying to recover more bodies that weren't allowed to be returned to their loved ones!

Europe has made NO forcible attempts to sever all ties with Russia, nor to warn Putin of his lies, & that his armed forces are being tracked by satellites, in allowing their aircraft to invade Ukraine Air Space, and firing long range weapons into that territory. A clear & unprovoked violation of International Law, and Acts of War Crimes, against a soverrign Nation!

I believe there is a clear consensus, that Russia was a party to this aircraft downing, and killings!

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1 reply
astronauty Richard C. August 02 2014 at 12:20 AM

And where is German leadership on this?

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1 reply
cptsujet astronauty August 02 2014 at 10:23 AM

Exactly. Sheep.

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ronbo681 August 01 2014 at 1:40 PM

It's time for Putin to release the Russian army and push the coup leaders troops back to the Dnieper River and partition the country into east and west.

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3 replies
Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 12:42 PM

In Donetsk, meanwhile, one person was killed Friday and three others were wounded when mortar fire struck a minibus carrying passengers near the central train station, said city hall spokesman Maxim Rovensky.

So it is wrong to shoot military personnel invading their territory on this "day of quite", but it is not wrong to shell civilians during it ?

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1 reply
cptsujet Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 1:24 PM

Umn yah, where does your quote state the Ukranians did the shelling? Another assumption on your part.

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2 replies
Welcome Justin cptsujet August 01 2014 at 2:28 PM

If the shelling occurred in a rebel city, then who do you think did the shelling ? Is it just your goal to make stupid comments here ?

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cptsujet cptsujet August 02 2014 at 10:31 AM

Justin, if Ukranianas attacked Donetsk then where do you think the Russians would use artillery??? Never served, have you. Your foolish assumptions and statements only prove your idiocy.

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Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 12:37 PM

Both sides in the conflict tentatively agreed to a cease-fire around the crash zone, but the Friday morning attack by rebels on government troops took place less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the site, outside the town of Shakhtarsk. Ukrainian forces and rebels have been battling in that area for several days but the town is still in rebel hands.

So if there was a ceasefire, then why were Ukrainian soldiers in rebel territory ?

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3 replies
pwbailey1950 August 02 2014 at 4:47 AM

When is the world and, in particular, Europe going to grow a pair and beat the crap out of these damn pro-Russian criminals and their leader, Adolf Putin? Until a show of force, this damn bully will continue his B.S. and lies.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
laferiabil August 01 2014 at 12:48 PM

I know this is gross but they only need to follow thier nose and there should be cadaver dogs doing the search. Those dogs are trained to find bodys and the dogs nose is 400 times better than a humans

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1 reply
imrustysmom laferiabil August 01 2014 at 1:31 PM

Your answer makes a lot of sense.

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