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Kerry: Missile downed flight MH17

Phone conversations released by Ukraine’s security service reveal discussions of the shooting of MH17.

Flowers and toys are left at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Hrabove, in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, on 19 July 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Alleged intercepted phone conversations released by Ukraine's security service, of pro-Russian rebels discussing how they shot down Malaysian airliner MH17 are genuine, according to the US Embassy in Kiev.

Ukraine's SBU security agency released recordings of what it claims are phone calls involving rebels and a Russian military intelligence officer admitting that they had hit the passenger jet after mistaking it for a military aircraft.

The recordings were presented as key evidence to back up Kiev's claims that rebels supported by Russia downed the jet while the separatists accused Ukraine's army of being responsible.

All 298 people on board were killed.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview on CNN, Moscow must take responsibility for the tragedy.

"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists. We know with confidence, with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at this point in time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists."

'SEPARATISTS HIDING EVIDENCE'

As Ukraine accused separatist rebels of hiding evidence relating to Thursday's downing of the airliner over eastern Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives, a pro-Russian separatist leader said items thought to be the stricken Boeing's "black boxes" were now in rebel hands.

With Western anger rising at the apparently disrespectful treatment of the bodies by the rebels controlling the widely spread crash sites, nearly 200 corpses were taken to be stored on a refrigerated train at Torez, 15 km (9 miles) away.

"It's corpses. They brought the bodies overnight," a duty officer at the town's station told Reuters.

Officials from the OSCE, the European security body, were able to inspect some of the railway wagons.

Moscow denies involvement in shooting down the airliner and has blamed the Ukrainian military. But Washington and its allies point the finger at the pro-Russian separatists who have Moscow's backing and have been accused of obstructing access to the crash sites.

Kerry said the United States had seen supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the last month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armoured personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers given to the separatists.

The United States had intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of the Boeing 777, he said.