Two Russian-built Sukhoi-25 jet fighters, like this one that belongs to the Iraq defense forces, were reportedly shot down Wednesday over eastern Ukraine. (AFP via Getty Images)
First Malaysia jet victims' bodies leave Ukraine
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, and pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets as fighting flared in the region.
British investigators began work on a pair of “black boxes” to retrieve data on the flight’s last minutes, while Dutch officials said they have taken charge of the stalled investigation of the airline disaster and pleaded for unhindered access to the wreckage.
The Dutch government declared a day of national mourning as the country prepared for the arrival of the first bodies in the afternoon. The crash on Thursday killed all 298 people — most of them Dutch citizens — aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The two military transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian, departed Ukraine at midday, heading for Eindhoven air base where the flights will be met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and hundreds of relatives. — AP
KIEV, UKRAINE — Russian-backed separatists shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets Wednesday in the eastern regions of the country, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
The ministry said on its Facebook page that the jets were among four Russian-built fighters that were returning to base after providing air support for Ukrainian troops near the border.
The pilots of both jets ejected from the aircraft, the ministry said. Their condition was not immediately reported.
Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said the Sukhoi-25 fighters were downed in an area called Savur Mogila in the Shaktersky region near the Russian border.
The site is only a few miles from where a Malaysia Airlines jetliner crashed last week after apparently being shot down by a surface-to-air missile with 298 people aboard.
The latest shootdowns are the first reported downing of a plane over eastern Ukraine since the Malaysia Airlines incident.
A similar SU-25 jet was shot down on July 17, the night before the MH 17 crash, by an air-to-air missile along the country's border with Russia, according to the Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's national defence and security council.