Obama: Plane Shot Down by Missile, 1 American Dead

During a news conference, President Barack Obama says the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

(Courtesy Photo / NBC News)

UPDATE 7/18/14 @ 12:15 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says one American was killed on the plane over Ukraine.

He says the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The President held a news conference at the White House Friday.

The president called it a global tragedy in remarks from the White House, one day after Malaysia Airline Flight 17 crashed.

He is calling for a credible international investigation.

The plane was shot down near the border between Ukraine and Russia.

The incident occurred one day after Obama announced broader economic sanctions against Russia for its threatening moves in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, President Obama is encouraging Israel to try to minimize civilian deaths in its ground push into Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Obama says he talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday about the Gaza operation and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself. He told reporters at the White House that no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders.

Israel's movement follows a 10-day campaign of more than 2,000 airstrikes that had failed to halt relentless Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities.

Israel stepped up its campaign after the Islamic militant group refused to accept an Egyptian truce offer.



UPDATED 7/17/14 @3:05 a.m
SYDNEY (AP) - The premier of the Australian state hosting an international AIDS conference says a "substantial number" of world-renowned AIDS researchers and activists were on board a Malaysian jetliner that was shot down over Ukraine.

Victoria Premier Denis Napthine told reporters in Melbourne on Friday that he can confirm many passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines plane were en route to next week's 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne.

There have been unconfirmed reports that up to 100 people on board the flight were going to the conference. Napthine says it's far too early to give a precise figure.



ORIGINAL STORY
Washington, D.C. (AP) - Russian President Vladmir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility for the crash of a Malaysian airliner. A Kremlin statement early Friday said Putin opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

Then, he said, "This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."

U.S. officials confirmed the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine, in rebel-held territory, killing all 295 people aboard.

Ukraine's security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that they said showed rebels were responsible for downing a Malaysian airliner.

In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane Thursday.

In the second, two rebel fighters - one of them at the scene of the crash - say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the crash site.

Neither recording could be independently verified.

One of the fighters, who states he is at the site of where the plane came to the ground, describes seeing scattered debris. He later describes finding the documents of somebody he identifies as an Indonesian national studying at "Thompson University."

Malaysia's prime minister says a Malaysia Airlines jetliner did not make any distress call before it went down in Ukraine, and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters that Ukrainian authorities believe the Boeing 777, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down.

He says that Malaysia, however, is unable to verify "the cause of this tragedy but we must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight.

This is the second tragedy to hit Malaysia Airlines this year. Its Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean west of Australia.


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