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July 18th, 2014
03:30 AM ET

U.S. Official: Missile Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Plane

A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, spurring swift accusations from Ukrainian officials that "terrorists" shot down the aircraft.

The United States has concluded a missile shot down the plane, but hasn't pinpointed who was responsible, a senior U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr.

The Boeing 777 with 298 people aboard fell from the sky near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, officials said. A top Ukrainian official said the plane, which was on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was flying at about 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet) when the missile hit.

A radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down, the senior U.S. official said. A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official said. The United States is analyzing the trajectory of the missile to try to learn where the attack came from, the official said.

The Obama administration believes Ukraine did not have the capability in the region - let alone the motivation - to shoot down the plane, a U.S. official told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the plane never made a distress call.

He called for an international team to have full access to the crash site.

"We must and we will find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned," he said.

"If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice," Najib said.

Ukrainian officials maintained that pro-Russian separatists were behind the crash.

You can follow the updating story at CNN.com

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Filed under: MH17 • Russia • Ukraine
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