Ukraine government suspends ceasefire at MH17 crash site after recovery mission halted

KIEV Thu Aug 7, 2014 7:43am EDT

1 of 6. Dutch colonel Cornelis Kuijs (R), the commander of a group of international experts, shakes hand with a Malaysian expert before they leave the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, at the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar August 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

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KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian government said on Thursday it was suspending a ceasefire with separatist rebels at the crash site of the Malaysian airliner after an international recovery mission had been halted.

The Netherlands, which lost 196 of its citizens in the 298 passengers and crew who died on flight MH17 which was shot down on July 17, said on Wednesday it was halting the recovery mission because of continued fighting in the region.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told journalists in The Hague the risk posed to the team of 70 Australian, Dutch and Malaysian experts was too great to continue working in the area.

A Ukrainian defense spokesman said Ukrainian forces were not carrying out any military action within 20 km (12 miles) of the site.

A government statement said later: "Experts were in agreement that the ceasefire regime in the area of the downing of the plane ... will not be in force until there is a second stage of the investigation."

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Alison Williams)

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