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International Investigators Begin Work at Crash Site in Ukraine

  • VOA News

An Ukrainian government army soldier approaches to a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 31, 2014.

An Ukrainian government army soldier approaches to a damaged bridge near the village of Debaltseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 31, 2014.

Several dozen international investigators have begun working at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

Investigators from the Netherlands and Australia, along with accompanying officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Friday began combing an area now designated as a crime scene.

They will focus on recovering several dozen bodies still missing and retrieving the belongings of the 298 people killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down last month.

Earlier Friday, 10 Ukrainian paratroopers were killed in an ambush by pro-Russian separatists near the town of Shakhtarsk, which is located not far from the crash site.

The acting commander of Ukraine's airborne troops, Col. Yuriy Halushkin told reporters in Kyiv that in addition to the 10 paratroopers killed in the ambush, another 13 were wounded and 11 were missing.

Elsewhere Friday, the OSCE rights and security organization said more than 60 international experts, including Dutch and Australians, had reached the site where a Malaysian airliner came down in eastern Ukraine last month.

Recovery work starts immediately,” the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Twitter.

A much smaller group of experts had reached the site on Thursday for the first time in several days after Ukrainian forces halted offensive operations against pro-Russian rebels in the area.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian government forces have intensified their military offensive against the rebels in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine since the airliner came down, killing 298 people.

The separatists are now pegged back in their two main strongholds, the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The United States says the separatists probably shot down the plane by mistake with equipment provided by Russia, but the rebels and Moscow deny the accusation and blame the crash on Kyiv's military campaign to quell the uprising.

Kyiv said its latest combat report that Russian aircraft had flown over east Ukrainian territory, the latest of several such accusations in the last few weeks, but Moscow has denied such reports.

The United Nations said in a report this week that more than 1,100 people had been killed and nearly 3,500 wounded between mid-April and July 26.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

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