Official: Rebels lay mines near crash site

Donetsk - International observers turned back on Wednesday after making another attempt to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down in eastern Ukraine, and a government official said the area near the zone had been mined by pro-Russian separatists who control it.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe set out in two vehicles - without frustrated crash investigators from the Netherlands who have been trying to reach the site for four days.

The OSCE observers headed back to the city of Donetsk after discussions with rebels on the city's outskirts not long after starting what would have been a two-hour journey to the site.

That means that almost two weeks after the 17 July disaster, safety concerns and hindrance from the separatists who control the area are still obstructing access to the site.

Foreign governments whose citizens died have complained the site is still not secured and some human remains have not been recovered. International observers say wreckage has been cut, moved or otherwise tampered with.

Government security spokesperson Andriy Lysenko added to those concerns Wednesday by saying separatists "have mined the approaches to this area. This makes the work of the international experts impossible".

Lysenko was asked at a briefing about concerns that Ukrainian efforts to win back territory were increasing fighting in the area and slowing access.

He said that Ukrainian troops weren't conducting operations against separatists near the site, but were trying to cut off their supply lines to force them to leave the area.

OSCE observers did not immediately tell journalists accompanying them what specific issue made them turned back.

The US and Ukrainian governments say the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile fired from areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been fighting the Ukrainian government.

The separatists deny shooting down the plane; Russia denies providing the Buk missile launcher and says the Ukrainian military may have shot the plane down.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces took control of the town of Avdeevka, just to the north of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. The town is near the airport, which has been fought over for weeks by rebels and government forces. Local officials said fighting over the past 24 hours killed 19 people in the region.

Ukrainian forces continue to encircle Horlivka, another key town northeast of Donetsk. The city of Donetsk is one of the main strongholds for the insurrection in the east and taking Horlivka would open the way to move against Donetsk, the Ukrainian military has said.

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OrbitingTeapot 2014/07/30 10:56:48 PM
This is rubbish. The Ukraine army are the only ones trying their best not to let the investigators to the crash site. The Ukraine regime forces were shelling the area that caused the first turn back by the investigators in clear violation of the 40km exclusion zone. Why would they do that? They were not under attack. Now its the story of mines! Why not use helicopters to get to the crash site then? Enough of this delaying tactics. The investigators must get the work done so that the truth can be revealed, whatever that may be.
Dennis van Aarde 2014/07/31 04:46:43 AM
The problem MARIO HIDDEN,no one wants war,so it boils down to each country feels nothing for it's citizens
Mark Russell 2014/07/31 05:04:54 AM
What better way to keep investigators away than to tell them that the rebels mined the approach to the area. They are trying hard to prevent the investigation from finding out what they did. Why not abide by the agreed cease fire. Even the aussies have stated that the rebels were cooperating and assisting in the investigation but kiev continues to attack them after agreeing to stop.
Mark Harold Jones 2014/07/31 06:09:53 AM
As the dutch said they do not need access to the compromised site for evidence. They have enough already. Lets wait and see what they conclude.
Lefu Jacob 2014/07/31 06:46:50 AM
ukraine need a military back up frm the affected countries.