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Ukrainian troops suffer heavy loss in ambush

Ambush Near MH17 Kills Ukrainian Soldiers

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) -- A team of several dozen international investigators descended Friday on the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine to begin combing an area now designated as a crime scene.

A few hours earlier, 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.

Investigators from the Netherlands and Australia, along with accompanying officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, traveled in 15 cars and one bus to the crash site, outside the village of Hrabove.


By midday, they began setting up base there for an operation that will initially focus on recovering several dozen bodies still remaining. The team also aims to retrieve the belongings of the 298 people killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down last month.

A small advance team managed to perform an initial survey of the area for the first time Thursday. For days, clashes along routes to the wreckage site had kept investigators from reaching the area to find and retrieve bodies that have been decaying in the 90-degree (32 C) midsummer heat. Independent observers warned that there has been tampering with evidence.

An Australian police official told reporters Friday that the wreckage would be officially designated a crime scene and that it would be divided into zones that will be systematically searched for evidence.

It is believed up to 80 bodies may still remain uncollected at the crash site, which is sprawled in a broad area across fields between two villages.

The team's drive to the area took them from their base in the rebel capital of 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.

Despite both sides in the ongoing conflict in east Ukraine tentatively agreeing to a cease-fire around the crash zone, fighting is continuing nearby.

Civilians in Ukraine Flee Fighting

The deadly attack by rebels on government troops Friday morning took place less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the crash site, outside the town of Shakhtarsk, which has been the object of sustained battles for several days and still remains in rebel hands.

Defense officials said in a statement 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. "The used the `day of quiet' just to fire on us."

Ukrainian forces have latterly focused their strategy on driving a wedge into an area between the largest rebel-controlled cities, Donetsk and Luhansk. Shakhtarsk lies on one of two highways linking those cities.

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wbearl August 01 2014 at 7:04 AM

"at least 10 Ukrainian soldiers were killed when their convoy was ambushed by pro-Russian separatist rebels"

pro-Russian separatist rebels, come on give us a break, these are Russian Special Forces. If anyone really believes any thing else I have a bridge to sell.

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9 replies
Drillsgt1843 August 01 2014 at 8:12 AM

So sad that we have to live on such a war torn, angry planet, where there is no regard for life and violence and hatred will bring about our own destruction.

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6 replies
ramonbatt August 01 2014 at 8:47 AM

They are Russian special forces. Russian top military official made it clear by saying that the international community is afraid of Russia. He said we can go in and take over Ukraine if we want? He said the west is afraid of us. They would not fight us. They are a bunch of COWARDS! He 100% right!

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4 replies
coopdabomb August 01 2014 at 9:57 AM

Never has there been this much turmoil in the world. You wanted change you go it. You wanted hope, that will come in Nov and 2016 when republicans fix it.

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4 replies
Raptor63 August 01 2014 at 8:50 AM

How narrow is the minds of this rebels, you make history painfully return to what once was the actions of WWII Germany, you are no different that the Germans who decided to change the worlds nations boundaries by annexing areas with the pretext of saving the German speaking people. Shame on you the people you are now killing fought to protect Russia, this are the descendents of those brave families that save Russia once. Criminals is all you really are.

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1 reply
Paul Raptor63 August 01 2014 at 9:19 AM

Why don't you go back a few months and see how this mess started in Kiev. Fascists sent there by the EU to remove the Russian leaning elected president.Of course the EU knew B Hussein Obama will be on their side.So who are the criminals?

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2 replies
debnaert Paul August 01 2014 at 10:30 AM

Paul.... don't stop there..... do you know why? Because their so called ELECTED leader, NOT, was absconding with all the MONEY! These Ukrainians were starving while this evil leader was living in a LAVISH existence! You must be a LIBERAL! Or a RUSSIAN!

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Welcome Justin Paul August 01 2014 at 11:11 AM

debnaert

How is that any different than what we have here in America ? By that logic, you would advocate a foreign nation coming in here and violently removing our elected leaders for their own puppet regime. Is that what you are hoping for ?

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chst586 August 01 2014 at 7:40 AM

This begs a simple question: What were the Ukies doing trying to maneuver in a cease fire zone? Looks like Porky's people got caught violating the local truce. Man, that's just too bad.

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5 replies
Roberta August 01 2014 at 8:42 AM

The Ukraine need to treat these pro Russian rebels as exactly what they are "Their enemy". Fight back!

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1 reply
Paul Roberta August 01 2014 at 9:16 AM

B Hussein Obama is calling the Republicans enemy too. No other President has done that before.It is his way or the highway

Flag Reply 0 rate up
vladswim August 01 2014 at 6:55 AM

Thank you rebels for fighting and killing those Bandera ultra-nationalist Ukrainian skinheads. If Poroshenko keeps on sending them, then we will keep on killing them. God Bless.

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11 replies
Welcome Justin August 01 2014 at 7:51 AM

So much for a cease-fire. Apparently the Ukrainian military was just using it as a way to redistribute their forces. If they truly cared about honoring it, they wouldn't have sent soldiers into rebel occupied areas. This is just further proof of the Ukrainians attempts to stymie the investigation into the crash. Although he was talking about the other side, Obama said it best : "what are they trying to hide ?"

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3 replies
almazstmp August 01 2014 at 10:01 AM

Kiev declares a "day of quiet" (whatever that means) and moves a military convoy into rebel held territory.
They can't even manage their propaganda, much less a country.
I am telling you people, our government is making a huge mistake backing these fascist imbeciles.

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1 reply
vladswim almazstmp August 01 2014 at 10:13 AM

No point in telling Americans that. Only informed and educated know the truth. The gullible one's believe everything that mainstream media tells them because they are sheep.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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