Report: Bullet Holes Found in Cockpit of Downed Russian Jet
Three holes resembling those made by bullets were discovered in a fragment of the cockpit of the Russian Tu-154 jet that crashed into the Black Sea en route from Tel Aviv to Siberia, rescue officials cited by Interfax and AFP said Friday.
According to Interfax, the captain of a cargo carrier conducting the rescue work reported this information to the transportation ministry, which is leading as investigation into Thursday's accident.
"It is up to specialists to draw the final conclusion," the report quoted the deputy rescue work chief, Nikolai Burkov, as saying.
Seventy-seven passengers, including 11 crew members, died on the flight, which left Tel Aviv for the western Siberian city of Novosibirsk. Fifty-one of the passengers were Israelis. No survivors have been found so far, but 13 bodies have been picked up, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, citing the head of the rescue center.
The investigation has focused on whether the plane was the victim of a terrorist attack.
Pentagon reports based on satellite images said that the Sibir Air jet was accidentally shot down during a military drill in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian Defense Ministry later denied the reports, according to the Tel Aviv-based daily Haaretz.
But the paper also said a Ukrainian navy official confirmed that the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian missile.
"Missiles with a range of 400 kilometers were launched as part of an anti-aircraft exercise in the southern part of the Ukraine," he was quoted as saying.
The plane, Siberia Airlines charter flight 1812, had taken off at 9:58am (7:58 GMT) from Tel Aviv, according to Haaretz.
The paper added that the crew of an Armenian An-24 airliner in the area had informed Russian air traffic controllers in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia that they saw an explosion aboard a plane flying nearby - Albawab.com
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