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KUALA LUMPUR, July 18:

The Prime Minister declared that today was a tragic day in an already “tragic year” for the country following the shooting down of a Malaysia Airline jetliner last night in Ukraine.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the country’s thoughts and prayers were with the families and friends of passengers on board flight MH17 that was shot down over Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur.

“Regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief,” Najib said, alluding to the fact that the passengers and crew were from different countries, at a 5am press conference.

Flight MH17 was a codeshared flight with KLM, the Dutch airline.

Najib revealed that the President of the United States of America Barrack Obama had contacted him and they both agreed that investigations must not be hindered and that an international team must have full access to the crash site.

No one, he said, should interfere with the area or move debris, including the black box.

Earlier, Najib revealed that the Malaysian government was dispatching a special flight to Kiev carrying a special Malaysian disaster assistance and rescue team as well as a medical team.

Najib said he has had several conversations with a number of world leaders, including his Dutch counterpart and the Ukraine President.

The latter, he said, promised a “through and independent” investigation and said that the Ukraine government would negotiate with rebels to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site.

“No stone will be left unturned. If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice”.

This is the second airline tragedy that the country has experienced.

Earlier this year, a MAS flight to Beijing disappeared an hour into its journey.

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