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Malaysia mourns as bodies from plane shot down over Ukraine return home

  • Malaysia Plane-1.jpg

    Malaysia Airlines crew members hold flowers as they wait outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims' bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is scheduled to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The remains of at least 15 Malaysians killed when the jetliner was shot down over Ukraine will be returned to their home country this week, the first Malaysian victims of the disaster to be flown home, the country's defense minister said Tuesday.(AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) (The Associated Press)

  • MALASIA-UCRANIA_AVION_SPANXKL102-2.jpg

    Una azafata de Malaysia Airlines con un ramo de flores frente al Complejo Bunga Raya en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Kuala Lumpur, a donde llegaron los restos de varias personas fallecidas en el vuelo MH17 de Malaysia Airlines, en Sepang, Malasia, el viernes 22 de agosto de 2014. (Foto AP/Lai Seng Sin) (The Associated Press)

  • APTOPIX Malaysia Plane-3.jpg

    A Malaysia Airlines crew member holds flowers as she waits outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims' bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are scheduled to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) (The Associated Press)

  • Malaysia Ukraine Plane-4.jpg

    Malaysia Airlines crew members hold flowers as they wait outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims' bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The remains of at least 15 Malaysians killed when the jetliner was shot down over Ukraine will be returned to their home country this week, the first Malaysian victims of the disaster to be flown home, the country's defense minister said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) (The Associated Press)

The bodies and ashes of 20 Malaysians killed when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the first repatriation of victims from the flight to the country.

The victims were carried aboard a specially chartered Malaysian Airlines jet and were to be received in a solemn ceremony. The government has urged people to wear black and observe a minute of silence and prayer to honor the victims.

All 298 people onboard died when the plane was shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists as it flew to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

The victims included 43 Malaysians and 195 Dutch nationals.

Malaysia has been spared many of the natural disasters that regularly strike other countries in Asia, but the downing of Flight 17 was the second tragedy to hit the national airline this year following the disappearance of Flight 370 on March 8.

The government was heavily criticized for its response to the missing jet, but won domestic praise for brokering a deal with the pro-Russian separatists to allow for the return of all the bodies on Flight 17 and ensure international access to the black box flight recorders.