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For the first time, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has not ruled out that one of its missiles may have downed the ill-fated Siberian Airlines plane that went down in the Black sea last week. "The Defense Ministry is examining all possible versions of the accident, including the accidental downing of the aircraft by a missile," a ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Russian experts said that fragments of a missile had been found in the recovered bodies of the victims of the crash and in the outside layer of the plane's fuselage.

The Russian news agency, Interfax, quoted a Ukrainian expert yesterday as saying: "Apparently, and to our deep regret, we have to say that the plane tragedy was caused by the firing of a missile."

The Russian daily, Komsomolskaya Pravda, reported yesterday that the airline had been warned of an impending terrorist attack on one of its planes flying to or from Tel Aviv. The airline's chief security officer, Victor Alkiesev, visited Israel to discuss the matter and was killed in the plane crash on his way home.

The Russian authorities and the airline have refused to comment on the reports.