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World leaders called for an international probe into the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over a contested area of Ukraine that killed 298 people on board, with the White House issuing a sharply-worded statement that accused Russia of arming and training the separatists accused of carrying out the attack.

“While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training,” read a statement issued by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday night.

The statement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Ukraine’s government “bears responsibility” for the crash because it allegedly resumed hostilities in the region. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott demanded Friday that Moscow answer questions about the "Russian-backed rebels" that he said were behind the disaster. More than 20 Australians were aboard the jet.

U.S. officials believe the Boeing 777-200 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Pro-Russian separatists have denied they shot down the plane.The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it has received assurances from separatists groups that investigators would be given access to the crash site.



— Phil Helsel and Reuters