Head of World Evangelical Alliance calls for peace in Ukraine after MH17 plane crash

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down yesterday, killing all 298 passengers.

The Boeing 777 took off from Amsterdam at 10:15 (GMT) headed for Kuala Lumpur, but lost contact four hours later and landed in rebel-held territory near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

More than half of the passengers were from the Netherlands, though nine Britons were also on board.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said an investigation would be launched immediately.

American surveillance satellites revealed that a surface-to-air missile was fired at the plane when it was flying at 33,000 feet, following weeks of tension and confrontation between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in the region close to the Russian border.

Pro-Russian rebels say they are not responsible for the attack and have blamed Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko, however, denied any Ukrainian military involvement, and said: "We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible."

Earlier this week the separatist rebels admitted to firing rockets at three Ukrainian fighter jets, although the Ukrainian authorities suspected Russian involvement.

In light of this latest catastrophe, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, Geoff Tunnicliffe, has called for Christians to pray for peace in the region.

He said in statement: "I am calling on our global family to pray for those who have lost family or friends as a result of the tragedy.

"And once again we renew our call for prayer for Ukraine and the ongoing conflict in the region, that there be a peaceful and lasting solution," he added.

Many of those on board were due to attend the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

The conference will go ahead despite the tragedy, in light of the commitment of those who would have attended to fighting HIV/AIDS. Bill Clinton and Bob Geldof are among the speakers at the event.