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Intercepted phone calls lay the blame on rebels

Two intercepted telephone conversations have apparently shown that rebels were responsible for downing a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's security services produced the recordings and said in the first call rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane.

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 25km (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."

Last night, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, Anton Herashchenko, claimed the plane was hit by a missile fired by a Buk launcher – a Russian-made, medium-range surface-to-air missile system also known as the SA-17.

Last month it was reported that rebels said they had captured such a system, capable of bringing down aircraft at an altitude of up to 25km. Other reports suggested Buk launchers crossed the Russian border during the World Cup.

Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow in Russian studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said both Ukrainian and Russian forces have the missile system.

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