Separatists bring down two Ukrainian jets near the MH17 site: military
By Near Dmytrivka and Nicolas Delaunay ,AFP
July 24, 2014, 12:08 am TWN
Ukraine/Netherlands -- Pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets in the insurgent-held area where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed, the Ukrainian military said.
“Terrorists have shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 jets,” the press office for Kiev's military campaign against the insurgents said in a statement.
The planes were hit by missiles fired by rebels close to the village of Dmytrivka, some 45 kilometers (25 miles) south-east of the MH17 crash site towards the Russian border, as they were providing air support for government infantry, the statement said.
The pilots from both jets managed to parachute out, it said, giving no further details about their condition.
A spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic told AFP its fighters had shot down the two aircraft.
An AFP crew trying to reach the scene was turned back by rebels who fired shots near their car some 10 kilometers from Dmytrivka.
The downing of the government jets comes just six days after the insurgents were accused of shooting down the Malaysian passenger plane using a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board.
Pro-Russian rebels battling government troops in the east had previously taken out a string of Ukrainian military aircraft during their 15-week insurgency.
The rebels have denied that they downed flight MH17, accusing the Ukrainian military of being responsible for hitting the jet.
First MH17 bodies arrive in Netherlands as nation mourns
The first bodies from flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday almost a week after it was shot down over Ukraine, with grieving relatives and the king and queen solemnly receiving the as yet unidentified victims.
Church bells rang out throughout the country as the planes touched down with the much-delayed return of the first 40 bodies of the 298 people killed in the disaster, most of them Dutch.
In a reminder of the ongoing war that is hampering recovery and investigation efforts, the Ukrainian military said that two of its fighter jets had been shot down Wednesday, possibly close to the Boeing's crash site.
The Netherlands has been united in grief and growing anger because of delays in getting bodies home and over the way pro-Russian separatists have treated the crash site, bodies and personal possessions.
The planes left from Kharkiv in Ukraine, where the bodies were given a dignified ceremony as they were carried on board by army cadets before a small party of officials.
Around 1,000 bereaved relatives of the 193 Dutch dead, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and representatives of the other nations that lost citizens on the flight met the planes.