Fighter jet reported shot down over rebel-held east Ukraine

ZHDANIVKA, Ukraine (AFP) - A Ukranian fighter jet was shot down on Thursday as it flew low over rebel-held territory in the east of the country, an AFP journalist witnessed.

The aircraft crashed into a field after an explosion in mid-air and the pilot was seen parachuting out in an area some 40km east of the insurgent bastion of Donetsk.

Explosions and flashes erupted from the plane as it continued to burn on the ground, sending up acrid smoke into the sky.

Two rebel fighters were seen standing close by in the dry, grassy field where the plane came down.

The location was some 40km west of the site where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down at an altitude of some 10,000m on July 17 killing all 298 people on board.

The Ukrainian military has lost a string of aircraft during almost four months of fierce fighting against pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine.

On Thursday the Ukrainian army announced it was scrapping a ceasefire around the MH17 crash site after international investigators decided to suspend their probe there due to ongoing fighting.