Heavy Fighting Blocks Investigators From MH17 Site

UN calls downing of MH17 a war crime
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2014 4:21 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2014 7:40 AM CDT
Fighting Rages Around Ukraine Crash Site
Dutch, right, and Australian policemen talk in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine yesterday.   (Dmitry Lovetsky)

Heavy fighting has turned back international investigators for a second day from the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down. The Ukrainian military has launched a major offensive against pro-Russia rebels, and it's no longer clear who's in control of the crash site, reports the New York Times. Dutch and Australian investigators and a forensics team tried to reach the site yesterday and today after an agreement was reached with rebel leaders, but they turned back because of artillery fire, reports the AP. The international team holed up in the town of Shakhtarsk, about 20 miles from the crash site; AP reporters there say they saw an apartment complex struck by artillery fire as residents hightailed it out of town. "This is a contested zone. There is active fighting going on," an Australian police official says, according to CNN. As the Ukraine military battles rebels, there have been reports of casualties in several cities, including Horlivka, around 30 miles from the crash site, where at least 13 people were killed yesterday.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said today that the downing of the Malaysia jet is a violation of international law that may constitute a war crime and every effort will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice, the BBC reports. The US, meanwhile, has released satellite images it says proves that Russia fired artillery from over the border the week after the jet was downed, reports the AP. Russia denies involvement in the conflict, and its foreign ministry accuses the US of carrying out "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, evermore relying on open lies." (More Malaysia Airlines stories.)

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