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    Wednesday, 11 April 2018

    At least 257 Soldiers killed as military plane crashes in Algeria: report

    At least 257 people including members of Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement were killed when a military plane crashed in a field outside Algeria’s capital on Wednesday, officials said.

    Television footage showed crowds gathering around the smoking and flaming wreckage near Boufarik airport southwest of Algiers. A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to what media said was a Russian Ilyushin transport plane.
    A total of 257 people died in the crash, state TV reported.
    A member of Algeria’s ruling FLN party told the private Ennahar TVstation the dead included 26 members of Polisario, an Algerian-backed group fighting for the independence of neighbouring Western Sahara – a territory also claimed by Morocco in a long-running dispute.
    The plane was heading to Tindouf, an area on Algeria’s border with Western Sahara, but crashed on the airport’s perimeter, Algeria’s defence ministry said.Tindouf is home to thousands of refugees from the Western Sahara standoff, many of them Polisario supporters.

    UN attempts to broker a settlement have failed for years in the vast desert area, which has contested since 1975 when Spanish colonial powers left. Morocco claimed the territory while Polisario established its self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic there.
    Algeria’s defence ministry issued a statement expressing condolences to families of the victims.
    In February 2014, an Algerian Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules crashed in a mountainous area in eastern Algeria killing 77 passengers and leaving one survivor.
    State media reports that the Soviet-designed Il-76 plane was headed for Bechar in southwest Algeria and the cause of the crash remains unclear. 
    Images posted on an Algerian website showed thick smoke billowing from the site of the crash, as several rescuers rushed to help.   Local news reports said the plane had been carrying as many as 200 soldiers when it crashed just after 8 a.m. The Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 transporter was bound for Bechar, in the southwest of the country.In 2014, an Algerian military transport plane carrying 78 people crashed into a mountain in the northeastern province of Oum El Bouaghi. One person survived.
    TV footage showed black smoke billowing near a motorway and a crowd of security officials and others standing in a field next to the crash site.
    The tail fin of a plane could be seen above olive trees, with smoke and flames rising from the wreckage.
    The cause remained unclear and an investigation has been opened, the Defence Ministry said in a statement. 

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