Ukraine's defence ministry says two of its military fighter jets have been shot down in the east of the country, less than a week after a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was destroyed by rebel fighters in the country's east.
The Sukhoi-25 fighters, referred to by NATO as 'Frogfoot', were shot down at around 1.30pm local time Wednesday, and are believed to have crashed over the Savur Mogila hilltop area, in the Donetsk region, less than 20miles from the site of the MH17 crash on Thursday. Savur Mogila is a burial mound, with a permanent memorial to ambushes by the Soviet army on Nazi occupiers.
Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky told the Associated Press the planes may have been carrying up to two crew members each.
Igor Strelkov, a rebel commander, said the separatists had brought down just one plane and that the pilot had ejected, but did not elaborate.
A pro-Russian rebel website, icorpus.ru, has posted a video of what it says is the burning remains of the downed fighter jet. Smoking pieces of charred metal can be seen on the scrubland, as small fires burn around it. Rebel fighters, wielding rifles, some with their faces caked in mud and wearing sleeveless camouflage attire, walk around the wreckage.
The fighting between pro-Russia separatists and the Ukrainian army has intensified since the disaster last Thursday, when rebels brought down the packed passenger plane, killing almost 300 civilians, including holidaymakers and AIDS researchers.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the Ukrainian army had forced the militants back toward the centre of the city of Donetsk, the rebel stronghold, and that militants had begun to dig trenches outside the university dormitories.
Reuters reported that more people had been killed in eastern region of Luhansk, another rebel base, where shelling killed a fire at a chemical base. The news agency quoted local health officials as saying 432 people have been killed and 1,015 wounded since hostilities started.
The attack comes as the black box flight recorders from the downed Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane have arrived for analysis by UK crash investigators.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will now go through the information from the cockpit voice recorder which will give them two hours of pilots' conversations as well as studying the contents of the flight data recorder.
Bodies from the crash site were arriving in Netherlands where the country's king and queen were taking part in a national day of mourning. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are in Eindhoven with relatives of the 298 people - including 10 Britons - killed in the disaster.
An unconfirmed number of bodies were released by the rebels yesterday and taken to the Ukrainian government-controlled city of Kharkiv by train.
Two military aircraft will fly some of them to Eindhoven this afternoon, where they will be met by the royals, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and relatives.
The Netherlands government said a minute's silence will be held before a motorcade takes them to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks, where the process of identifying them will begin.