Ukraine's security services have produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that they said showed rebels were responsible for the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
All 298 passengers on board the MH17 were killed when the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down before crashing in eastern Ukraine.
In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane.
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Transcript of (translated) conversation between rebel commander Igor Bezler and security officer Vasili Geranin, provided by the Kyiv Post:
Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo.
Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?
Bezler: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. It's smoking.
Geranin: How many minutes ago?
Bezler: About 30 minutes ago.
In the second, two rebel fighters, identified only as 'Major' and 'Greek', say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 25 kilometres north of the crash site.
Major was at the scene of the crash.
When asked whether there are weapons on board, he responds: “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”
“Are there any documents?” Greek asks.
“Yes. Of an Indonesian student from Thompson University. F***.”
In another phone call, a rebel contacts a Cossack commander to investigate why the plane was flying in the embattled area that has been a site of conflict between Ukranian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Rebel: Regarding this plane that was downed in the Snizhne-Torez area. It turned out to be a passenger aircraft. It fell near Grabovo. A lot of bodies of women and children. Now the Cossacks are looking at all that.
Rebel: The TV said it was AN-26. A Ukrainian cargo plane. But Malaysia Airlines is written on it. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?
Cossack commander: It means they wanted to bring some spies to us. F*** them. They should not fly, we are at war here.
The recordings could be independently verified.
Deleted posts suggest Ukraine rebels downed Malaysian jet in error
Social media posts by pro-Russian insurgents -- most of them hastily removed -- suggest the rebels thought they had shot down a Ukrainian army plane before realising in horror that it was in fact a packed Malaysian airliner.
The Twitter and blog messages were immediately publicised by top Kiev officials in their furious information war with the Kremlin for global opinion and the hearts and minds of ethnic Russians caught in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
- 'We downed an An-26' -
The rebels first claimed to have downed at least one Ukrainian army plane over the strife-torn eastern rustbelt on late Thursday afternoon.
The VK social networking page of Igor Strelkov -- "defence minister" of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic -- first announced: "We just downed an An-26 near (the town of) Torez."
"And here is a video confirming that a 'bird fell'," said the post.
The website then provides a link identical to that published by Ukrainian media in reports about the Malaysia Airlines jet.
The video shows locals referring to the same coal mine in the region mentioned by Strelkov.