US says missile shot down Malaysia plane
Iran Press TV
Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:8PM GMT
The United States says a missile shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft that crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.
American intelligence and military officials claimed on Thursday the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had been targeted by a Russian SA-series missile.
US aviation officials said the plane had been traveling an approved and heavily trafficked route over eastern Ukraine, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Russia border, when it vanished from radar screens with no distress signal.
It was the second time within months that Malaysia Airlines had suffered a mass-casualty flight disaster and with the same model plane, a Boeing 777-200ER, making the crash even more shocking.
On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, lost contact with air traffic control, leading to a fruitless multinational search effort, which became the largest and most expensive in history.
"This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia," Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak told reporters in a televised statement from Kuala Lumpur. "If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice."
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the disaster and the broader Ukraine crisis, White House officials said.
For months, eastern Ukraine has been the scene of violent anti-Kiev protests and uprisings. Protesters have claimed responsibility for attacking a Ukrainian military jet as it landed in the city of Luhansk on June 14, and for shooting down a Ukrainian transport plane on Monday and a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet on Wednesday.
According to US officials, there are strong indications that those responsible for shooting down the plane may have mistakenly downed what they had thought was a military aircraft only to discover, to their shock, that they had struck a civilian airliner.
The White House has criticized Russia, saying it had supplied pro-Russian protesters with weapons, men and training, a charge Moscow denies.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed the downing of the airliner on 'terrorists.' In an address, he accused Russia of 'supplying military personnel and state-of-the-art weaponry' to the protesters, calling on the international community for an 'adequate response.'
However, Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, an insurgent group in eastern Ukraine, denied in a telephone interview that the rebels had anything to do with the crash.
He said that they had shot down Ukrainian planes before but that their antiaircraft weapons could reach only to around 4,000 meters, far below the cruising level of passenger jets.
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