AP source: Missile took down jet in Ukraine but unclear who launched strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down a passenger jet carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, but the Obama administration is still scrambling to confirm who launched the strike and whether there were American citizens killed in the crash.

Vice President Joe Biden says the incident was "not an accident," describing the Malaysia Airlines plane as having been "blown out of the sky."

Among the unanswered questions is whether the missile was launched from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border they share. The official says U.S. intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely that pro-Russian separatists or Russians shot down the plane than Ukrainian forces.

The U.S. has sophisticated technologies that can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from a rocket engine.

%@AP Links

287-v-23-(Martin Di Caro, AP correspondent)--U.S. intelligence officials believe a surface to air missile took down a Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine. AP correspondent Martin Di Caro reports. ((replaces cut 272 with updated information)) (17 Jul 2014)

<<CUT *287 (07/17/14)££ 00:23

APPHOTO NY114: In this Nov. 15, 2012 photo, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 with tail number 9M-MRD — the same aircraft that was shot down near the Ukraine Russia border on Thursday, July 17, 2014 — takes off from Los Angeles International Airport. Ukraine said the passenger plane was shot down Thursday as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (AP Photo/JoePriesAviation.net) (15 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO NY114 (11/15/12)££

©2016 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.