Australian Prime Minister Abbott: Ukraine plane crash was murder

Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, has said the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine was mass murder.

On a visit to the Netherlands to discuss the disaster with Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, Abbott laid a wreath at the military barracks where victims' remains are being identified.

"Let's be absolutely crystal clear about what happened," he said after meeting Rutte in The Hague. "Two-hundred-ninety-eight innocent people were murdered."

Flight 17 was shot down July 17, killing all 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch, Malaysian and Australian citizens.

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have publicly denied responsibility but one top rebel has told The Associated Press they were involved.

A Dutch-led criminal investigation into the plane's destruction is still in an evidence-gathering phase.