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Australian PM points finger at Russia over downed Malaysian plane

Friday, July 18, 2014 - 01:53

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott blames Russia over the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jetliner over eastern Ukraine. Sarah Toms reports.

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The crashed plane burst into flames, smoke billowing across these fields in eastern Ukraine. Debris could be seen falling from the sky in the middle of a conflict zone. Much of the wreckage was burned beyond all recognition but here a wing clearly showing the markings of a Malaysia airliner. Poignant reminders of the 298 people on board travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The US strongly suspects a surface-to-air missile brought down the Malaysia Airlines flight but the cause is not yet known. The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said it's still not clear if the plane was shot down. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, SAYING: "The Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down. At this stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy. But we must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned. If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice." But Australian Prime MInister Tony Abbot appeared to go further than others in apportioning blame. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIA PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT SAYING: "Madam speaker this is grim day for our country and it's a grim day for our world. Malaysian Airlines MH17 has been shot down over the eastern Ukraine it seems by Russian-backed rebels and 295 people have been killed. At least 27 Australians have been killed." For months Russian-backed separatists have been fighting government forces in exactly the same area where the crash happened. The Ukrainian government accuses rebel forces of firing a long range missile. Several of its aircraft have been shot down in recent weeks. The Moscow-backed fighters deny the accusations, blaming Ukraine. But whatever the cause, world leaders are demanding answers and this tragedy can only serve to heighten already fraught tensions between Russia and the West.

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Australian PM points finger at Russia over downed Malaysian plane

Friday, July 18, 2014 - 01:53