Saturday, October 25, 2014
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U.S. POINTS BLAME AT PRO-RUSSIA REBELS

A delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe arrives as pro-Russian fighters provide security at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet near Hrabove in eastern Ukraine.
A delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe arrives as pro-Russian fighters provide security at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet near Hrabove in eastern Ukraine. DMITRY LOVETSKY / Associated Press
A delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe arrives as pro-Russian fighters provide security at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet near Hrabove in eastern Ukraine. Gallery: U.S. POINTS BLAME AT PRO-RUSSIA REBELS
ROZSYPNE, Ukraine - World leaders demanded Friday that pro-Russia rebels who control the eastern Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 give immediate, unfettered access to independent investigators to determine who shot down the plane.

At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, the United States pointed blame at the separatists, saying Washington believes the jetliner carrying 298 people, including 80 children, likely was downed by an SA-11 missile, and "we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel."

Both the White House and the Kremlin called for peace talks in the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-speaking separatists who seek closer ties to Moscow. Heavy fighting was reported less than 60 miles from the crash site, with an estimated 20 civilians reported killed.

Emergency workers and local coal miners recovered bodies from grasslands and fields of sunflowers, where the wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell Thursday.

About 30 officials, mostly from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, arrived at the crash site between the villages of Rozsypne and Hrabove, about 25 miles from the Russian border.

The rebels allowed the team to perform a very partial and superficial inspection. While the delegation was leaving under orders from the armed overseers, two Ukrainian members lingered to look at a fragment of the plane by a roadside, only for a militiaman to fire a warning shot in the air with his Kalashnikov.

The dead passengers were from more than a dozen nations - including vacationers, students, and a group heading to an AIDS conference in Australia - when the plane was shot down Thursday while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

President Obama, disclosing that one American was among those killed, called it "a global tragedy."

"An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies filled with citizens from many countries, so there has to be a credible international investigation into what happened," he said.

In Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vented his anger in calling for an international investigation.

"We ask all respective governments ... to support the Ukrainian government to bring to justice all these bastards who committed this international crime," he said.

All sides in the conflict - the Ukrainian government, the pro-Russia rebels they are fighting, and the Russian government that Ukraine accuses of supporting the rebels - denied shooting down the plane. Moscow also denies backing the rebels.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed accusations that Moscow could be behind the attack.

"Regarding those claims from Kiev that we allegedly did it ourselves: I have not heard a truthful statement from Kiev for months," he told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

At the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the missile was likely fired from a rebel-held area near the Russian border.

Ukraine's Interior Ministry released a video purporting to show a truck carrying the Buk missile launcher it said was used to fire on the plane with one of its four missiles apparently missing. The ministry said the video was shot by a police surveillance squad at dawn Friday as the truck headed toward the Russian border.

There was no way to independently verify the video.

The entire Security Council called for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation, in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines, and for appropriate accountability." It stressed the need for "immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident."

Obama also called for such an investigation, adding: "The eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out."

He also called for a cease-fire in the conflict between the separatists and Ukrainian forces. At a Kremlin meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged that "all sides in the conflict should halt their fighting and enter into peaceful talks," according to an official website.

On Thursday, Putin blamed Ukraine for the crash, saying Kiev was responsible for the unrest in its Russian-speaking eastern regions. But he didn't accuse Ukraine of shooting the plane down and didn't address the key question of whether Russia gave the rebels such a powerful missile.


MORE COVERAGE, A2

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In Phila., Ukraine backers seek a full investigation.

Visit www.inquirer.com for the latest developments.

Peter Leonard and Dmitry Lovetsky Associated Press
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