Nearly 300 passengers were killed Thursday as their Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777 may have been shot down, according to Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko, who called for an immediate probe of the tragedy, Interfax news agency reported.

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Anton Gerashenko, an aide to the Ukrainian interior minister, wrote on his Facebook page that flight number MH17 was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet over the region when it was hit by a missile, The Independent newspaper reported. Gerashenko wrote that the jet was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher and crashed near the city of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels. The system is capable of launching missiles up to an altitude of 72,000 feet.

There has been fierce fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in the eastern part of Ukraine for months.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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