A metal fragment from the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 matches a Russian surface-to-air BUK rocket, reports Dutch broadcaster RTLNieuws on Thursday.
The fragment was recovered by a Dutch journalist from the village of Hrabove several months ago near the area where the plane crashed on July 17th, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
Dutch broadcaster RTLNieuws said it had had the shrapnel tested by international forensic experts, including defence analysts IHS Jane’s in London, who said it matched the explosive charge of a BUK, a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile system.
The damage from a BUK rocket is similar to the damage to the MH17 plane:
The downing of the plane was a turning point in the conflict in Ukraine, which pits the separatists against Kiev’s forces.
Kiev and its Western supporters blamed the rebels for the incident and it stiffened the resolve of Western governments to impose sanctions against both leading separatists and Moscow.
The Dutch Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of the crash, said in a reaction that its investigation was in “full progress and focuses on many more sources than only the shrapnel.”
In preliminary conclusions published last year, the board said the plane had been hit by high velocity projectiles but did not specify the source.
“Additional investigation material is welcome, but it is imperative that it can be indisputably shown that there is a relationship between the material and the downed aircraft,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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