Malaysia Airlines plane disappears over Ukraine, feared shot down by missile

The Washington Post reports: Malaysia Airlines said Thursday that it lost contact with an airliner that was flying in Ukrainian airspace, raising fears that the plane may have been shot down over eastern Ukraine.

“We lost contact with Flight MH17 in Ukraine,” said Najmuddin Abdullah, who works in Malaysia Airlines’ press office.

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister wrote on Facebook that a Buk antiaircraft missile system shot down the plane over the village of Torez, about 25 miles east of the city of Donetsk and within territory held by pro-Russian separatist rebels.

The plane was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members, Anton Herashchenko, the Interior Ministry adviser, wrote on his Facebook page, without revealing how he knew the information. He blamed the rebels for the attack.

Julia Ioffe writes: Russian state media reported in late June indicate the rebels got a hold of a Buk missile system, a Russian/Soviet surface to air system. Rebels are now denying that they shot down the plane, but there are now screenshots floating around the Russian-language internet from what seems to be the Facebook page of Igor Strelkov, a rebel leader in eastern Ukraine, showing plumes of smoke and bragging about shooting down a Ukrainian military Antonov plane shortly before MaH 17 fell. “Don’t fly in our skies,” he reportedly wrote. If that’s true, it would seem rebels downed the jetliner, having mistaken it for a Ukrainian military jet.

This all has to be confirmed, though the separatists did issue statements saying they downed an Antonov this morning and took five of its crew members hostage. There is also an off-chance that the Ukrainian miliatry did it, having also declared a no-fly zone in the area recently. The rebels are, of course, busily blaming the Ukrainian military.

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