Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Police team turns back from Ukraine crash site

At least eight civilians were killed by fighting and shelling in two cities held by separatist militants overnight Sunday, officials said. At least eight civilians were killed by fighting and shelling in two cities held by separatist militants overnight Sunday, officials said.
Associated Press | Ukraine | Posted: July 28, 2014 4:40 pm

An international police team abandoned its attempt to reach the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines plane for a second day running Monday as clashes raged in a town on the road to the area.

With government troops intensifying their push to claw back more territory from pro-Russian separatist rebels, the death toll is mounting steadily. The United Nations released new figures Monday showing that more than 1,100 people have died in more than four months of fighting. The international delegation of Australian and Dutch police and forensic experts stopped Monday in Shakhtarsk, a town around 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the fields where the Boeing 777 was brought down.

Sounds of regular shelling could be heard from Shakhtarsk and residents were seen fleeing town in cars.  The mandate of the police team is to secure the currently rebel-controlled area so that comprehensive investigations can begin and any remaining bodies can be recovered.  Their visit was canceled Sunday amid safety concerns.

Ukraine has accused rebels of tampering with evidence and trying to cover up their alleged role in bringing the Malaysia Airlines plane down with an anti-aircraft missile. Separatist officials have staunchly denied responsibility for shooting down the airliner and killing all 298 people on board.

A Ukrainian security spokesman said Monday that data from the recovered flight recorders shows Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed due to a massive, explosive loss of pressure after being punctured multiple times by shrapnel. Andrei Lysenko said the plane suffered massive explosive decompression” after it was hit by fragments he said came from a missile.  The data recorders were sent to experts in Britain for examination.

In their campaign to wrest control over more territory from separatist forces, Ukraine’s army has deployed a growing amount of heavy weaponry. Rebels have also been able to secure large quantities of powerful weapons, much of which the United States and Ukraine maintain is being supplied by Russia.

Moscow dismisses those charges. While Russia and Ukraine trade accusations, the death toll has been mounting swiftly.  The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report out Monday that at least 1,129 people have been killed between mid-April, when fighting began, and July 26. The report said at least 3,442 people had been wounded and more than 100,000 people had left their homes. A U.N. report from mid-June put the death toll at 356.

At least eight civilians were killed by fighting and shelling in two cities held by separatist militants overnight Sunday, officials in the rebellion-wracked region said.  Authorities in Luhansk said that five people were killed and 15 injured by overnight artillery strikes. Three were killed in Donetsk as a result of clashes, the city’s government said.

Rebels accuse government troops of continued…

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