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Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets on Wednesday about 25 miles from where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down, the country's defense ministry said. "Terrorists brought down two Ukrainian SU-25, the pilots [ejected]," the ministry wrote on its Facebook page. Authorities said the planes had been protecting Ukrainian soldiers on the ground "who were bravely holding positions on the border of our country."
The incident, which happened near the village of Dmytrivka, near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, comes six days after separatist rebels in the same area are accused of shooting down MH17, with the loss of 298 civilian lives. A video posted to YouTube pro-separatist leader Igor Strelkov appears to show separatists discussing how they can capture the pilots of the downed jets. “Look! Here are the signs this was a Ukrainian plane that was shooting at civilians,” says a voice in the video, which could not be verified by NBC News.
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NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and Reuters contributed to this report.