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Gunmen prevent OSCE monitors to access Ukraine crash site

Self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the pro-Russian separatist "Donetsk People''s Republic" Alexander Borodai (C) stands as he arrives on the site of the crash. (AFP)

Gunmen prevented monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe from observing the site where a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine today, the rights and security watchdog said.

Calling their behaviour "impolite and unprofessional", an OSCE spokesman said some gunmen in the area seemed intoxicated while others would not let the team of about 25 observers look at the wreckage of the Boeing 777.

"We had expected unfettered access, that's the way we work," Michael Bociurkiw told a news conference.

"Unfortunately the task was made very difficult. Upon arrival at the site ... we encountered armed personnel who acted in a very impolite and unprofessional manner. Some of them even looked slightly intoxicated."

He denied that the observers had been fired at by pro-Russian rebels, but said one gunman fired shots into the air, seemingly to scare off some civilians.

Earlier, the OSCE's permanent council chairman, Thomas Greminger, told Reuters monitors had not been able to secure an access corridor for the crash-site and that investigators had stayed there for only about 75 minutes before setting off back to Donetsk.

The United States said it was "very concerned" about the way the OSCE monitors had been treated.

"Those who say they are going to participate in or welcome this investigation need to give unfettered access and obviously, we didn't see that when these individuals were there for 75 minutes," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing in Washington.

The United States wanted to see "a credible, international investigation," she said, adding that the US government had offered to send personnel and resources from the National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Psaki said the Ukrainians had accepted the offer and the NTSB and FBI would each send at least one investigator, although it was unclear when they would go.

"And we of course will be responsive to their needs moving forward," she said.

"As for observing close up the wreckage of the Boeing 777 that was very difficult. The armed guards did not allow us very much leeway to leave the roadway and look at the wreckage," he said.

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Tags:  World  Ukraine  Malaysia Airline  





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