Friday, August 01, 2014

Break in Fighting Lets International Team Reach Site of Ukraine Crash

By ANDREW ROTH and ANDREW E. KRAMER, NYT
JULY 31, 2014

SHAKHTYORSK, Ukraine — International monitors finally reached the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, after being blocked for days by fighting in the area between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists.

Ukrainian officials said they had suspended offensive operations against the rebels to allow the monitors to reach the site safely. Commanders at Ukrainian military positions near the site confirmed that they had been ordered to halt their advance.

Even so, columns of smoke were seen near the site, and the sounds of explosions were heard. In Shakhtyorsk, a mining town about 10 miles south of the site, gunshots and explosions were heard through the afternoon, though it was unclear who was firing.

Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who was with the team at the crash site, said by telephone that the monitors had traveled through checkpoints in both government-controlled and rebel-held territory without encountering serious fighting.

(More here.)

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