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Cows graze near the wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Donetsk region, on July 26, 2014. (SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS)
Cows graze near the wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Donetsk region, on July 26, 2014. (SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS)

'Massive explosive decompression' downed MH17: Kiev Add to ...

Heavy fighting raged Monday around the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 debris field, once again preventing an international police team charged with securing the site from even getting there, while Kiev said that rocket shrapnel and "massive explosive decompression" were what caused the plane to go down.

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Ukraine said its troops had taken more territory from pro-Russian rebels near the crash site. Ukrainian officials said two rebel-held towns had been recaptured and attempts were being made to take a village Kiev says was near the launch site of the surface-to-air missile that shot down the airliner with loss of all 298 on board.

Western leaders say rebels almost certainly shot the airliner by mistake with a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile, while Russia accuses Kiev of responsibility. In Geneva, The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the downing of MH17 may be a war crime and called for a thorough investigation.

KIEV: BLACK-BOX DATA POINTS TO 'MASSIVE EXPLOSIVE DECOMPRESSION'

Analysis of the black box flight recorders from a downed Malaysian airliner show it was destroyed by shrapnel coming from a rocket blast and went down because of “massive explosive decompression,” a Ukrainian security official said on Monday.

The spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council, Andriy Lysenko, told a news conference in Kiev the information came from experts analyzing the flight recorders.

Investigators in Britain, who downloaded the data, had no comment. They said they had passed information to the international crash investigation led by the Netherlands, whose nationals accounted for two-thirds of the victims.

CRASH SITE: KIEV TAKES STRATEGIC AREA

The Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe said on Twitter its experts travelling with Australian and Dutch ones were forced to return to the provincial capital of Donetsk for “security reasons.”

The international delegation of police and forensic experts stopped Monday in Shakhtarsk, a town around 30 kilometres from the crash site. Sounds of regular shelling could be heard from Shakhtarsk and residents were seen fleeing town in cars. Associated Press reporters saw a high-rise apartment block in Shakhtarsk being hit by at least two rounds of artillery.

The mandate of the police team is to secure the currently rebel-controlled area so that comprehensive investigations can begin and any remaining bodies can be recovered. Their visit was cancelled Sunday amid safety concerns.

Kiev said on Monday its troops recaptured Savur Mogila, a strategic piece of high ground about 30 kilometres from where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing hit the ground on July 17.

Roadblocks between the city of Donetsk and the crash site are variously controlled by Ukrainian army or rebel forces. The rival sides accused each other of impeding access to the site on Sunday, with Kiev saying it was not engaged within a 20-kilometre no-fight zone and rebels accusing the army of trying to destroy evidence on the ground.

UNITED NATIONS: PROBE OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ‘IMPERATIVE’

The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 may be a war crime, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday. Pillay called for a thorough investigation into the violation of international law that occurred when the flight was shot down.

“This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime,” Pillay said of the downed jetliner. “It is imperative that a prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation be conducted into this event.”

A report by the UN’s team of 39 field monitors in Ukraine says there has been an alarming buildup of heavy weaponry in civilian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk – including artillery, tanks, rockets and missiles that are being used to inflict increasing casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. The report says such attacks could amount to violations of international humanitarian law.

EAST UKRAINE: CIVILIANS KILLED, POWER LINES HIT

In Donetsk, local officials said fighting went on around various city districts overnight and artillery fire damaged several residential blocks and houses. Power lines and a gas pipeline were also hit, they said.

Separatists also said five civilians were killed in the other rebel stronghold of Luhansk, northeast of Donetsk.

Ukraine’s emergency service said more than 56,000 people fled the violence in two eastern regions since Kiev started what it calls an “anti-terrorist” operation against the rebels there three months ago. At least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded in the Ukraine conflict since mid-April, UN monitors in the country said in their fourth monthly report on Monday.

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